Court Uses Twitter to Order Imposter Twitterer to Stop Twittering

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The High Court in the UK took the unusual step last week of allowing service of a court order on Twitter and, perhaps even more unusually, it worked! The order required that an anonymous defendant cease posing on Twitter as Donal Blaney, the blogger behind Blaney’s Blarney, and abandon the imposter account. The imposter account, using the monicker “Blaneysblarney”, looked identical to the Twitter account under which Donal Blaney actually posts, at “Donal_Blaney”.

The order also demanded that the as-yet unknown person behind the imposter @Blaneysblarney account identify themselves.


 

On September 18th, @Donal_Blaney demanded of the imposter “@blaneysblarney You’re not me: who are you? If you don’t delete this account & stop impersonating me I will report you to the authorities.”

When that didn’t work, Blaney did indeed report the imposter to the authorities, and went a step further, turning to the legal system. (It probably didn’t hurt that Blaney owns the law firm which represented him – Giffin Law.)

The Imposter

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Court Uses Twitter to Order Imposter Twitterer to Stop Twittering

On Thursday of last week, a direct message was sent to the imposter account, saying “You are hereby ordered by the High Court of Justice to read and comply with the following order,” with a link to the actual cease and desist order.

While this sort of service by social media is highly unusual, it is not without precedent. In fact, nearly a year ago an Australian court allowed service of a lawsuit on Facebook.

Says George Lubega, a litigation expert with the law firm of Pinsent Masons, who operates out-law.com, “Courts are becoming much more realistic about these sorts of things. The usual method of serving documents is through the post, but court orders are served by fax, by email. I’ve even served them, effectively, by reading them out over the telephone, so it is not a million miles from that to serving it by Twitter.”

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While it is unknown whether the culprit actually clicked on the link, Blaney says that he has complied.

In a statement on his blog, Blaney states that “The hitherto anonymous individual who infringed my intellectual property rights and set up the fake @blaneyblarney account on Twitter has, on service of the injunction requiring him to stop and to reveal his identity, agreed to comply with the order. I am in the process of negotiating a settlement with this individual.”

  
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Court Uses Twitter to Order Imposter Twitterer to Stop Twittering

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