Many of us have been the victim of blatantly false information being spread online and now it seems many are seeking retribution.
An elderly hotel owner claimed his reputation and business was ruined by a man who posted a derogatory Facebook post about him knowingly housing criminals… or specifically pedophiles at his business.
The 74 year old business owner was unmercifully bashed by social media users and even recieved death threats after the post hit the net back in 2014.
Now, the poster of the false information has been ordered to pay substantial damages.
Mr Rothe received death threats after the post and reportedly was bashed so severely he spent six months in hospital.
He was also forced out of the small coastal town of Nambucca, NSW, after the damaging allegations were posted on Facebook in 2014.
According to Sydney Morning Herald, the allegations were made by local electrician David Scott under the guise of a ‘paedophile warning’.
In March 2014 Scott wrote the following post, asking people to spread the word…
“Pedophile [sic] warning:- Nambucca has been used as a relocation for these monsters – blue dolphin –nirvana hotel and above the Indian restaurant! …Bus stops are right out front of theses hotels for our children?”
Mr Rothe, the owner of the Blue Dolphin Motel and Nirvana Village Motel and a rental apartment in Nambucca Heads, sometimes offered crisis accommodation for people fleeing family disputes but emphatically denied he ever housed ex-prisoners or paedophiles under any agreement.
A “devastated” and “distressed” Mr Rothe begged Mr Scott for a retraction and an apology but neither was given to him.
Mr Rothe told the court about several physical assaults that had occurred to him after the post.
He also received anonymous phone calls to the motel, some asking for sex, and the Nambucca Valley Crime Information Facebook page republished the allegations.
“This Facebook attack was made on him out of the blue, with no prior inquiry of any kind by any person,” Judge Gibson said.
“It has had a devastating effect on him,” she said.
“It would be fair to say that the publication of the matter complained of has destroyed the plaintiff’s wellbeing as well as his peace of mind.”
Judge Gibson also found that there was no factual basis to Mr Scott’s claims, he was an “unimpressive witness” and he had made no attempt to verify the information he had heard from others prior to posting his rant.
Judge Gibson went on to comment about the increasingly common defamatory remarks made on social media.
“The anonymity, instaneousness and wide ranging reach of the Internet and social media make it a dangerous tool in the hands of persons who see themselves as caped crusaders or whistleblowers, or alternatively want to humiliate or “troll” other members of the community for the purpose of gratifying their own wishes or fears of for the purpose of gaining attention.”
And the moral of this story is?? A lie has speed (i.e. social media) but the truth has endurance (i.e. Lawsuits).
What do you think of this blatant Facebook FAIL?