A local restaurant owner is suing Facebook saying it failed to take actions against a former employee who posted harassing messages on the social media site.
Kevin Ralph Richard filed the lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. and Maleko Kirk Malepeai in Horry County court this week.
Richard owns Filet’s restaurant in North Myrtle Beach and Malepeai is a former employee.
In December 2016, Malepeai published on his Facebook account “false and defamatory” statements about Richard, the lawsuit states. The filing adds the posts were an effort to hurt Richard’s reputation and deter people from his business.
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Facebook was notified about the content in late 2016 or early 2017.
North Myrtle Beach police charged Malepeai with second-degree harassment. He eventually pleaded guilty and paid a $150 fine. According to the police report, Malepeai falsely accused Richards of having inappropriate sexual relationships with other men. It also accused Richard of wishing to shoot people with a .22 caliber gun.
The suit says Facebook told Richard — who did not have a Facebook page — he could unfriend, unfollow or block Malepeai.
The options were “inadequate” and failed to provide a solution such as removing or suspending Malepeai’s account, according to the suit. Richard says the statements still impact him almost two years later.
Richard’s lawsuit alleges libel, conspiracy, emotional distress and other charges and asks for an unspecified amount of damages.
Facebook officials declined to comment.