HomeBussinessSwiss start-up seeks names of people behind X ‘defamation’

Swiss start-up seeks names of people behind X ‘defamation’

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Switzerland-based Vinivia AG, its CEO Steffan Graff and CFO Marcello Genovese claim that in the weeks after the firm’s app was launched last April, four accounts were set up on X, formerly known as Twitter.

All four accounts, they claim, have posted statements about them that are “defamatory and false”.

They also alleged that the posts, which include photographs and personal information about Mr Genovese and Mr Graff, are in breach of their GDPR rights.

The allegedly defamatory posts state the plaintiffs are involved in “frauds and scams”, “financial misconduct”, that the firm is a “shady company”, that it has “betrayed the employees and business partners”, has “pitched fake technology that does not exist”, that they are “criminals”, “thugs”, are involved in “money laundering”, and that one of the plaintiffs is “a Nazi”.

The plaintiffs claim that because of the posts they have “suffered significant reputational damage”. They claim the posts are having a significant impact on the company’s business and ability to attract further investment.

It is estimated that due to the posts the company has lost over €4m in investment from 20 creators, who have declined to work with the company.

One investor, Nordstein AG – which proposes to put €3m into the firm – has also expressed concerns about the posts.

In addition, American social media personality Charli D’Amelio, who with 155 million followers is one of the most followed people on TikTok, has decided to cancel all her live streams on the App for the moment due to the negative posts. The posts have also affected the firm’s ability to hire employees.

Peter Shanley, for the plaintiffs, told the court on Tuesday that Vinivia is a live-streaming social media app which improves monetisation and e-commerce opportunities for its content creators.

It is a rival to TikTok, counsel said.

The app was launched in the US last April, and the four accounts started to appear in May and June, counsel added.

Counsel said all four accounts are being used for the purpose of harassing, undermining, and damaging his clients.

All of the posts on the accounts relate to Vinivia and its founders, counsel said.

Counsel said that complaints about the posts have been made to X.

While some of the posts were temporarily restricted, the accounts remain active and his clients want to brining proceedings against those posting the defamatory material, counsel said.

In order to sue those behind the accounts, Mr Shanley said his clients require an order from the court directing Irish-based Twitter International UnLimited Company, an X Irish-based subsidiary which provides the X service to all users within Europe, to give them details about the holders of the @VinivialInsider, @MayouKnow249, @FightTheScam, and @TheSaintofCA accounts.

The plaintiffs seek an order directing Twitter International to provide them all information in its possession relating to the identities of anyone who created or controls the accounts.

They also seek orders providing for the removal of all the posts by the accounts and the suspension of the accounts.

The application came before Mr Justice Oisin Quinn, who on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis granted the plaintiffs permission to serve notice of its application on Twitter International.

The judge was satisfied to make the matter returnable to a date later this month.

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