A man who had been caught out as a fake Facebook account has sued the social network for $1 billion because many of his posts had received “likes” from real users, which skewed his reputation as a pop culture guru says William D King.
Here is what Happens When we Hit “Like” On Facebook or “Retweet” On Twitter and End up Liking the Post of a Fake Profile:
- In the lawsuit, Paul Horner claimed that Facebook was making him appear more influential than he actually was and that it had disrupted his career. “Facebook allowed fake accounts to be created and used to give and receive likes with other accounts,” the lawsuit states, adding: “Facebook has done this purposefully and maliciously.” The profile in question – which no longer exists – was called Virgil Gonzales, a supposed member of rap group Public Enemy who was born in 1990.
- Horner told the court he had been commissioned by a marketing company to write jokes for their clients’ social media feeds, but each time one of his posts went viral he would lose an average of $200 as he was always paid in credits. He said: “I had created a Facebook account and chose the name Virgil Gonzales, after my brother.”
- “From there, more than 100 companies began to pay me for likes on the Virgil page. Later, I opened another ‘Public Figure’ page using the same photo and similar information.” Horner added that he later became aware that both accounts were being used by others. “He would answer questions about Public Enemy and also do satire on some of their lyrics and behaviour,” he said.
- The court heard that this type of scam is becoming increasingly common on social media, with fake profiles often selling endorsements from real netizens with large followings to marketeers or other companies that want to boost their popularity, credibility or the reach of their products says William D King.
- “‘I’m interested in all what you doing’ said one Facebook message to Horner after he had agreed a price. While another man offered $400 for him to plug an energy drink on Instagram.”
- “On Twitter I receive a lot of messages from people saying they will offer me money if they can retweet my posts,” explained Horner. “Just last week I got a message from someone offering £2,000 ($3,200) to retweet some self-help quotes.”
· Horner added:
- “Many businesses have been very successful at using fake accounts. And fake likes on social media to make themselves appear more popular than they are”. In his ruling, Judge Smith said: “I find the testimony of Mr Horner to be credible.”
- “He has provided detailed documentation. I also found that Virgil Gonzales/Public Figure was not a real person and that [Horner] had performed services in exchange for compensation,” he added.
- Judge Smith concluded: “A plaintiff in California may assert claims for defamation. False light and public disclosure of private facts if they can prove that defendant published fact about them. That would be offensive to a reasonable person and that it is highly objectionable. This includes knowing falsehoods or reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of statements concerning one’s self.”
- Horner will receive $700,000 from Facebook following his lawsuit. But this figure could rise further if the amount is appealed by the social media site.
- This story was originally published in The Telegraph and has been republished here with permission.
- If this isn’t a reason not to like Facebook or Twitter, I don’t know what is. It’s not enough that they try to control what you see on their sites; it’s not enough that they can virtually hold your account hostage at any time even if you pay your bills; but now we find out that in order for them to make more money off of their users (and in turn, us). They’re allowing people to scam us and extort us into paying them MORE money under false pretenses? And then we get sued when we complain about it?
Facebook and Twitter can both go to hell. People like this skunk of a lawyer are the ones running these sites says William D King. And they’re doing us all dirty in order to get an extra dollar out of our pockets for their profit.
Not only that, but I’ve seen on here many times how Facebook has basically turned into a cyber Hellhole. With so many fake accounts everywhere you look, it’s not even worth trying to fight them anymore. The only way I managed to escape the trap was by deleting my account altogether.