Un­masked troll made to pay up

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

A PERSON think­ing they could at­tack a Townsville restau­rant anony­mously on Face­book has set­tled out of court for a claim of defama­tion, lawyers act­ing for the busi­ness say.

Evan Sari­nas of Sari­nas Le­gal de­clined to name ei­ther the busi­ness or the person who posted the com­ments but said peo­ple should be aware of the harm they could cause and the risk they could be brought to ac­count.

“Un­true and spite­ful re­views were posted on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia web­sites de­signed to bring the busi­ness into dis­re­pute,” Mr Sari­nas said.

“Our client wasn’t hav­ing a bar of it and made the gal­lant de­ci­sion to ex­pose the troll be­hind it all.

“We un­masked their iden­tity and pur­sued the claim to a suc­cess­ful set­tle­ment and the im­me­di­ate re­moval of the of­fen­sive posts.”

Mr Sari­nas said the set­tle­ment in­cluded a mon­e­tary pay­ment in the thou­sands of dol­lars, an apol­ogy to the busi­ness own­ers and the re­moval of the com­ments on sev­eral web­sites.

The busi­ness owner, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said he ac­cepted that neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive com­ments would be posted on so­cial me­dia sites.

He said they de­cided to act after the com­menter re­fused re­quests to dis­cuss their con­cerns with them and the posts con­tin­ued to be made months after the ini­tial in­ci­dent.

“It be­came a per­sonal at­tack on us,” the owner said. “Com­ments were di­rected at my wife, her per­son­al­ity and phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance.”

He said the posts started after a mis­un­der­stand­ing with a food or­der.

He said peo­ple should try to re­solve their dif­fer­ences rather than launch at­tacks on so­cial me­dia.

“That busi­ness you are try­ing to de­stroy could one day be the same busi­ness that gives your son or daugh­ter a job,” the owner said.

Mr Sari­nas said peo­ple mak­ing defam­a­tory state­ments on­line seemed to be­lieve they could do so anony­mously and not be found or iden­ti­fied.

He said a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor tracked down the iden­tity of the person re­spon­si­ble for the com­ments.

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