Old folks are not fond of Facebook. This 74-year old man will never sign up for an account if he does not have one. A Facebook post by a fellow South Wales resident ruined his life and his business.
The false Facebook allegation
Kenneth Rothe, the owner of two motels in New South Wales, was assaulted and forced to flee his home in the coastal town of Nambucca due to false allegation via Facebook by a fellow resident, David Scott.
David Scott, an electrician by profession posted on Facebook, in March 2014, that, “Pedophile Warning: Nambucca is now the relocation preference for these monsters. They are housed at Blue Dolphin, Nirvana Hotel and the above Indian restaurant. There are bus stops just outside for our children.”
The consequences of the post
According to Sydney Morning Herald, Rothe was the owner of Nirvana Village and Blue Dolphin Motels. The two Motels occasionally offered emergency accommodation to people involved in family disputes. However, the administration never allowed ex-prisoners and pedophiles into the rooms.
After the post had spread online, Rothe began receiving threatening calls; two of the calls were life to threaten. He asked David Scott to remove the post, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. After the threatening calls, what followed was a physical assault that left him hospitalized for six months. His family relocated from Nambucca soon after the physical assault.
The Facebook attack was made on Mr Rothe out of the blue with no formal inquiries made, according to the New South Wales Judge in charge of the case. “The Facebook Post has had devastating effects on the well-being of the plaintiff as well as his peace of mind.” In the light of these findings, David Scott was ordered to pay AUD 150,000 to compensate damages.
Judge Judith Gibson continued to explain how the anonymity, widespread and quick transmission of information of the internet and social media can have far reaching consequences in the in the hands of malicious people and mindless whistleblowers such as David Scott. Such people do not mind what they do, as long as they gratify themselves, their wishes and their fears and gain popularity in the process.
Authorities versus Facebook
AUD 150,000 (£90,000) seems a small amount compared to the turmoil caused on Mr Rothe and his family. However, the sum should act as a warning for people to tread cautiously before hurling accusations on people without enough proof. Instead of posting his accusations on Facebook, Scott should have taken the matter to the authorities like any other responsible citizen.