Imagine if you were traveling in a country half-way around the world from your own, and returned home only to find out that your name had been dragged through virtual mud? Well, that is exactly what happened to Irishman, Eoin McKeogh — who then had to take legal action to rectify his online defamation problem.
Online Defamation Of A Traveling Man?
On November 13, 2011, Eoin McKeogh, a 22-year-old student from Dublin, Ireland, was innocently doing his academic thing in Japan. Being that Japan is a substantial distance from Dublin, Mr. McKeogh was understandably dismayed upon discovering, on a cold December day, that he was being accused of stiffing a Dublin taxi driver of his due €50 (about $64.57 USD) fare on November 13.
The taxi driver, who had taken a video of the fleeing fare evader on November 13, decided to post the video on YouTube in December. In the video, another person was heard to clearly call out to the culprit by name, “Eoin.” That’s all that was required for somebody to accidentally corner themselves in an online defamation lawsuit. When the video made the rounds online, an anonymous poster suggested that Eoin McKeogh had committed the dastardly deed.
Now, with the actual guilty party’s face prominently displayed in the video, one would expect that rational judgment and behavior would ensue. One would hope that the person who so eagerly and stupidly accused Mr. McKeogh of this evil act would see the video and say “Hey! I was wrong. Back off, boys.” Sadly, that was not the case. The mob hath spoken and there was blood to be taken. Insanity reigns; let the madness begin!
Online Defamation Accusations Continue
Before long, the online defamation claims crescendoed and the innocent Mr. McKeogh was called names that would make Beelzebub blush — “sc-mbag and “thief” counted among the mild insults. Mr. McKeogh ostensibly felt like he was being maligned on every “breaking news” and social website on the Internet. It was like an online defamation tsunami.
Mr. McKeogh first went to the Gardaí — Ireland’s police force — for advice and to lodge a complaint. Apparently, the matter was out of their hands, so Mr. McKeogh was forced to bring an online defamation suit to protect his good name. On January 10, 2012, the matter was brought before the courts.
To the Courts of Online Defamation Justice
At that time, Mr. McKeogh presented his passport to the presiding judge so he could judge for himself whether Mr. McKeogh was capable of acting with such scurrilous indifference while he was, in fact, in Japan. The passport clearly indicated that Mr. McKeogh had absolutely been in the Far East from November 11, 2011 until November 22, 2011.
On that day, January 10, 2012, Mr. McKeogh was seeking an injunction to have the video associated with his name permanently deleted from the web.
Subsequent to that court appearance, media outlets continued to marry McKeogh’s name with the crime. Pauline Whalley, attorney for the plaintiff, was forced to appeal for the court’s interception to prevent newspapers from continuing to name Mr. McKeogh as a suspect.
Attorney Whalley mentioned that the taxi driver had appeared in court on January 13 to aver that Mr. McKeogh was definitely not the young man in the video, nor did he even resemble the actual culprit. On that day, the cabbie apologized profusely to young McKeogh for the problems brought about.
On Tuesday, January 17, the high court provided Mr. McKeogh with an injunction preventing YouTube, Google and Yahoo from posting the video for one whole week. Err, Yahoo!?
Online Defamation Epilogue
A Mr. Eoin Black has come forth to confess that it was he who perpetrated the crime of the century. He has apologized to, and paid off, the taxi driver. Black has also publicly expressed his regrets to Mr. McKeogh.
The high court Justice, Micheal Peart, announced that he would make an immediate decision as to whether or not Mr. McKeogh can receive his permanent injunction.