The Tokyo District Court has ordered US company Facebook, which operates the Instagram photo and video sharing service, to provide a male Japanese fashion model with details about the person or people who created fake Instagram accounts and pretended to be him, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The court's provisional disposition ordering the information be disclosed has been finalised, and Facebook has provided the model with information including the internet protocol addresses of the fake accounts' creators.
In many cases, courts have ordered information about people who posted messages on websites or social media networks be disclosed when the posts infringed on someone's privacy or tarnished their reputation.
However, the model's case is believed to be the first in which a court has ordered such details be disclosed because a fake account had been created to impersonate somebody. This ruling could help provide relief to victims of fake accounts.
The lawsuit at the district court was filed by Daisuke Kamada, a 37-year-old fashion model. Kamada had opened his Instagram account in 2014 and posted messages for his fans. However, several fake accounts bearing Kamada's name and photographs of his face also appeared online. In December 2018, Kamada demanded that details on three of these fake accounts be disclosed.
During the trial, Kamada emphasised that creation of the fake accounts on social media made it hard for people to determine which one was authentic."My right not to have my identity impersonated by someone else was violated," he said.
Facebook indicated it would contest Kamada's case, but in a provisional disposition dated January 17, Judge Takashi Hirose deemed that Kamada's rights had been violated and ordered Facebook to disclose the IP addresses of the fake account creators and the dates and times when those accounts were accessed.
The three fake accounts subject to this ruling have already been deleted. Even so, using the disclosed information, the victim could pinpoint the name and address of the fake account creators through a separate civil trial or other channels and it ultimately would become easier to demand the impersonators pay compensation for damages.
The court did not give the reasons why it ordered Facebook to disclose the information. One veteran civil court judge said, "It seems the court seriously considered the impact of the victim's name and facial photos being used without permission and of someone else pretending to be him."
Lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa, who represents Kamada, told The Yomiuri Shimbun, "People impersonating others on social media is a rampant problem, so this ruling can be expected to help prevent further harm from being done."
A Facebook Japan representative declined to comment on matters relating to individual cases and accounts.
© 2019 The Japan News