Facebook is the weapon when friends fall out
A man is being sued in London for, allegedly, creating a false profile of an ex-friend online
What do you do when you fall out with a schoolfriend?
Do you call them the next day and make nice?
Do you call all your mutual friends and tell them the schoolfriend is muck on legs?
Or do you ignore them for the rest of your life, deciding that removing them from your orbit removes the bad karma they brought with them?
According to a case that is currently lowering the mood in the UK's High Court, another option is to create a false Facebook profile of your ex-friend, accusing him of being corrupt in business and making false statements about his sexuality.
To be precise, that he lies to avoid repaying loans and is a member of the 'Gay Jews in London' group.
Matthew Firsht was so appalled when his brother pointed out this false Facebook profile that he sued his ex-friend, Grant Raphael, for defamation.
The laws of defamation are pretty nasty in the UK and Mr. Raphael's defense- that some strangers at a party he held must have used his computer to create it- will require a very deft, or perhaps even daft, lawyer to make it sound persuasive.
What moves me to numbness about this case is that Mr. Firsht and Mr. Raphael fell out eight years ago. Facebook only launched in the UK in 2006.
One would have thought that any ex-friend would have had ample time and opportunity to besmirch Mr. Firsht in so many different ways in the intervening years.
He could have daubed some vindictive invective on Mr. Firsht's front door. Or on his car. He could have confronted him publicly and attempted to embarrass him in, say, a pub, or a Turkish bath.
But, according to Mr. Firsht's lawyer, Laura Skinner, apparently not.
Yet her phraseology was very curious: "Mr Firsht values his privacy highly. It was the gross invasion of his privacy, namely having his personal details, including false details concerning his sexuality, laid bare for all to see that caused him the most distress."
So is she accusing Mr. Raphael of unveiling both false and true information in this profile, each of which was equally hurtful?
Is it the lies people tell about us or the truth that hurts us more?
Sadly, I am looking forward to hearing more details about this unpleasant little case.
I want to know why they fell out in the first place.
I want to know precisely which pieces of information were true and which false.
And I want to know how many people saw this profile in the sixteen days it was on Facebook before Mr. Firsht's brother had it removed.
You see, social networking is damaging us all.
It's giving us furtive options to eke out our evil sides on suspecting and unsuspecting foes.
And it's making us a thousand times nosier.
Or is it revealing us for what we really are?