Facebook has failed in a bid to halt legal action over a naked photograph of a 14-year-old Northern Ireland girl being repeatedly posted on an online “shame” page.
A High Court judge in Belfast rejected the social media giant’s attempt to have the claim against it struck out.
In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the world, the child is suing Facebook and the man suspected of posting her photo.
Her lawyers allege the image was blackmailed from her and then published as a form of revenge porn.
The girl, who cannot be identified, is seeking damages for misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Her photo was said to have been posted on a so-called shame page on Facebook several times between November 2014 and January 2016.
Counsel for the teenager likened it to a method of child abuse.
It was contended that Facebook had the power to block any republication by using a DNA process to identify the image.
The court heard that putting a naked picture of a 14-year-old should have been a “red-line” issue for the company.
If the image had been blocked all subsequent publications would have been avoided, according to her legal team.
Barristers for Facebook mounted an application to have the case dismissed at a preliminary stage.
They relied on a European directive, claiming it provides protection from having to monitor a vast amount of online material for what is posted on one page.
It was also stressed that the social network always respond to any reported breaches brought to its attention.
The picture was taken down as soon as notification was received, the court heard.
However, Mr Justice Stephens refused Facebook’s bid to bring proceedings against it to an end.
Instead, the case will now advance to full trial at a later date.