A British businessman who had his personal life laid bare in a fake profile on the social-networking Web site Facebook has been awarded $44,000 in a libel case he brought against a former school friend.
Mathew Firsht, who runs a Web site which books live audiences for TV shows, sued an old school friend for libel and misuse of personal information after the friend created a false Facebook profile for Firsht and a group called "Has Mathew Firsht lied to you?"
Grant Raphael, a freelance cameraman who fell out with Firsht several years ago, had argued that the profile was created by a group of mischievous friends during a party at his home in London, but a judge in the High Court ruled that the defense was "built on lies."
Deputy Judge Richard Parkes awarded Firsht $30,000 for libel and $4,000 for breach of privacy. Firsht's company, which arranges audiences for shows such as "Big Brother" and "Ready Steady Cook," was also awarded for $10,000 for libel.
Firsht accused Raphael of creating a false Facebook profile which claimed that Firsht was "looking for whatever I can get" in a relationship. Raphael had also signed the profile up to various groups on Facebook, including "Gay in the Wood ... Borehamwood" (the suburb north of London where Firsht lives) and "Gay Jews in London."
The profile listed private information about Firsht, including his birthday, relationship status, details of his whereabouts and activities, but also made false claims concerning his sexual orientation and political views.