Resolution statement 00209-19 A Woman v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      7th March 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Resolution statement 00209-19 A Woman v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “'When you get invited to Sandra's 50th by mistake!' Man who was accidentally added to a group chat hilariously pranks members with suggestions of drugs and STRIPPERS” published on 9 January 2019.

2. The article reported on a series of widely shared tweets. These tweets were from a man who had been mistakenly invited into a private group chat which had been created to discuss an upcoming birthday party. He then proceeded to make a series of unlikely suggestions. The complainant was one of the members of the group chat. The publication reported these tweets, which included screenshots of the group chat conversations where the complainant’s full name and phone number were visible.

3. The complainant said that publishing her phone number was an intrusion into her privacy – she did not consent to the information being placed into the public domain, and was unaware at the time that the man had gained access to the private group chat. She had received many contacts as a result of this information being made public, and was especially concerned that the article may have an effect on her job.

4. The publication said that it had published the complainant’s phone number in error, but denied that there was any breach of the Editors’ Code. It said that the article did not reveal anything private about the complainant that was not already in the public domain via the man’s posts on Twitter, and noted that the complainant’s phone number and messages had been already been extensively shared across social media before the article was published.

5. The publication said that there was no intention to cause the complainant any distress, and noted that the phone number had only appeared for 3 hours on the publication’s website before being obscured. It said that the member of staff had been reprimanded for the mistake.

Mediated outcome

6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to write the complainant a private letter of apology, and contribute a donation to the charity of the complainant’s choice.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

9. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.

Date complaint received: 10/01/2019

Date complaint concluded: 25/02/2019