Activist Fiona O’Leary sues Twitter and two users after being called a ‘rapist’


An AN AUTISM activist and blogger is suing Twitter and two of the platform’s users for defamation after being called a “rapist” on the social media platform.

Iona O’Leary has brought civil proceedings against the social media giant and the two Twitter users in Circuit Court where damages can reach a maximum of €75,000.

Speaking to The Sunday World, Ms O’Leary said she had tried everything in terms of contacting Twitter to have the posts deleted to no avail.

“I’ve never sued anyone in my life,” she said. “But I cannot allow these allegations on a social media platform to sit there unchallenged.

“I believe in free speech, but that’s not it.

“It’s abuse and defamation.”

Ms O’Leary’s case relates to a series of six tweets posted on the social media platform between March 14, 2021 and January 3, 2022.

The tweets are believed to relate to a conversation Ms O’Leary had regarding the difficulties she had conceiving a child with her husband Tim – and their use of IVF.

In the tweets, as well as being branded a rapist, Ms O’Leary was described as a ‘whimsical’, ‘pathological liar’, ‘cancer bully’, ‘liar’, ‘hypocrite’,’ a stalker’ and a ‘broodmare’ – defined in legal documents as a ‘female horse useful only for producing offspring and should only be regarded as such by reasonable members of society.’

Tim O’Leary, who is supporting Fiona in her action against Twitter, posted a video this week of him dropping off the papers at the offices of Cork Circuit Court.

In the video, he said: “We have taken legal action against Twitter and two others for defaming her… and me and refusing to quit.

“It’s begun… Wish us luck.”

In documents filed in the Circuit Court, Mrs. O’Leary’s lawyers said the offensive tweets in their natural and ordinary sense meant and were understood to mean that: “the complainant (Ms. O’Leary) is a rapist and/or or guilty of the crime of rape contrary to criminal law.

Lawyers for Ms O’Leary also say she reported the defamatory content to Twitter on November 8 and that Twitter acknowledged in writing on November 30 that it was aware of the content posted on its platform.

But, continues the endorsement of Ms. O’Leary’s claim, Twitter has so failed, neglected and refused to remove defamatory content.

It is acknowledged in legal documents that Twitter is generally permitted to invoke the hosting defense.

But lawyers for Ms O’Leary argue that Twitter “became a responsible and concurrent publisher of content upon receipt and review of the offending posts on November 8”.

The newspapers continue, Ms O’Leary “is a person who values ​​and strongly believes in her constitutional rights and good character”.

They state that the people who wrote the tweets did so in order to have Ms O’Leary ‘denied the right to her good name and to create an air of confusion about her online activities’.

The logs say that none of the people made any effort to remove the content they posted when they were told the tweets represented defamatory material.

Mr O’Leary, the newspapers continue, is now seeking ‘exemplary damages on the basis that the defamatory statements indicated that she was guilty of serious criminal offenses in full knowledge that the postings were false and defamatory’.

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