Hearing for Joburg teen suing Facebook to reveal identity of Insta stalker postponed
A court hearing in which a teenager was seeking an order against Facebook Inc to reveal the identity of an anonymous poster who threatened her with rape, gang rape and murder, was adjourned on Tuesday.
The urgent application, scheduled to be heard before Johannesburg high court judge Brian Spilg at 10am via Microsoft Teams, did not take place. Instead, the judge’s registrar informed those in the virtual meeting that the hearing had been adjourned until August 11.
It is believed the adjournment was with the consent of the 13-year-old’s lawyers and those acting for Facebook Inc, and that the parties are talking in an attempt to settle the matter.
Initially, local lawyers acting for Facebook said the company would oppose the application. Earlier this month, they submitted a notice to abide by the decision of the court, saying, however, that “it reserves the right to have counsel available at the hearing to present arguments on legal issues insofar as it assists the court”.
The graphic messages were posted on the teenager's Instagram platform under different subscriber names - all variations of the word ‘Killer” with random numbers - over five days in May this year. They detailed how she would be murdered, raped and gang raped.
Because they mentioned names of others in her class at school, she believed the person who posted was known to her.
In her affidavit, the teenager said she had been too scared to return to school, too afraid to be left alone at home and struggled to eat and sleep.
In order to serve her court application on Facebook Inc, she had to get the permission of a local judge for “substituted service”, and her parents had to hire a lawyer in California in the US to hand-deliver the documents to the company’s Sacramento offices.
The teenager said she intends to get a protection order and lay criminal charges against the person who posted the threats.