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How to Identify Facebook Posters and the Average Cost of Legal Fees


How to Identify Facebook Posters and the Average Cost of Legal Fees

Facebook is a social networking service operated by Facebook, Inc. Once you register an account with Facebook, you can write and post your own articles, as well as view articles posted by your friends. Facebook also offers a free app, allowing users to access its services not only from a PC but also from a smartphone. Facebook accounts are generally required to be registered under the user’s real name. However, there may be instances, albeit not many, where articles that can be considered defamatory are posted under pseudonymous accounts.

If a pseudonymous account is posting defamatory articles, is there a way to identify the poster? In this article, we will explain how to identify a Facebook poster and the average cost of attorney fees in such cases.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networking services. By creating a Facebook account, you can post photos and articles, as well as check your friends’ posts. Facebook allows you to set the visibility of your posts, choosing from options such as ‘public’ or ‘friends only’. Not only individual accounts, but also corporate accounts exist on Facebook, where companies post their latest information and news.

Examples of Defamation Posted on Facebook

Facebook generally requires users to register with their real names, so there may not be many instances of this, but there are cases where posts that could be considered defamatory are made. What kind of examples can be considered as defamatory posts on Facebook?

  • Posts that can be considered as harassment or defamation (Example: “A (real name) has had plastic surgery. Her original face was really ugly.”)

The above example of a post can be reported as a violation of Facebook’s terms of use and community standards. If the post is not removed even after reporting the violation, or if you have suffered significant damage, you can also take steps to identify the poster. Facebook requires users to register with their real names, but there is a possibility that defamatory posts may be made by accounts registered with arbitrary names. In such cases, if you take steps to identify the poster and succeed in doing so, you can claim damages from the poster. The details of the procedure to identify the poster will be explained below.

Procedure 1 for Identifying the Poster: Request for IP Address Disclosure

How do we go about identifying the poster? Let’s delve into the details of the process.

What is an IP Address?

The first step in identifying the author of a defamatory Facebook post is to request the disclosure of the IP address. An IP address is a number used to identify devices connected to the Internet. It serves a role similar to a physical address or telephone number on the Internet.

You can register an account on Facebook by entering your name, mobile phone number, or email address. According to the Facebook Help Center, the name on your account should be the name you go by in everyday life (the name on your identification documents). However, it is not impossible to register under a pseudonym. Also, the email address you enter at the time of registration can be a free email address.

Therefore, if the poster has registered under a pseudonym, the Facebook operator may only have the correct information about the poster in the form of a phone number or email address. If you know the phone number, you may be able to identify the individual to some extent, but if the email address is registered and it is a free email address, it would be difficult to identify the poster just by knowing the email address. In such cases, you need to request the disclosure of the IP address to identify the poster.

Request for IP Address Disclosure through Provisional Disposition Procedure

A request for IP address disclosure is a procedure carried out through the courts. If you think a post violates Facebook’s terms of use or community standards, you may be able to have the post removed by reporting the violation. However, if the post is not removed even after reporting the violation, you will need to proceed with actions such as a request for IP address disclosure. The method of deleting Facebook posts is explained in detail in the article below.[ja]

A request for IP address disclosure can be made not through a lawsuit, but through a provisional disposition. While a lawsuit can take years depending on the case, a provisional disposition can be completed very quickly, in about 1 to 2 months.

According to information on the Internet, the average attorney’s fees for a request to delete an article and disclose an IP address are approximately:

300,000 yen for the initial fee and 300,000 yen for the success fee.[ja]

Please note, however, that the cost can vary depending on the content and volume of the article.

Proof of Illegality of the Post

In order to request the disclosure of an IP address and have the court issue a disclosure order, you must prove the illegality of the Facebook post. The court will only issue an order to disclose the IP address if it acknowledges that the post is illegal. In the case of a violation of Facebook’s terms of use, you can report the violation, and Facebook, Inc. is able to remove content that violates its terms of use. In this case, the post is only in violation of Facebook’s terms of use, and it is not necessarily illegal. Even if it is not illegal, you may be able to have it removed by reporting the violation to Facebook.

On the other hand, in order to have an order to disclose the IP address issued, you need the following two things:

  • A legal argument demonstrating the illegality of the post
  • Evidence to prove the above

You need to make a legal argument about the illegality of the post and consider evidence to prove its illegality. It is difficult to conduct such legal discussions and considerations on your own, so you need to consult a lawyer who is familiar with online defamation measures.

Procedure 2 for Identifying Posters: Prohibition of Log Deletion

If you have obtained an IP address in Procedure 1, you can identify the provider. The provider keeps logs of who posted using that IP address. However, these logs have a retention period, and in particular, mobile networks delete them after about three months. Therefore, it is necessary to issue a prohibition order to the provider not to delete the logs. To obtain this prohibition order, you must go through a separate legal procedure.

However, there may be cases where you do not need to go through a legal procedure if you issue a notice saying, “We are requesting the disclosure of the name and address, so please do not delete the logs until then.” Therefore, you should first consider issuing a notice. Even if you only issue a notice, you will need to assert and prove the illegality of the relevant Facebook post.

If you ask a lawyer to create this notice, the average lawyer’s fee is expected to be around 100,000 yen. Since there are not many examples published on the internet, it is recommended to consult a lawyer who is familiar with such procedures.

Procedure 3 for Identifying the Poster: Request for Disclosure of Address and Name

After requesting log preservation in Procedure 2, we will request the provider to disclose the poster’s address and name. The request for disclosure of address and name requires a formal legal procedure, not a provisional disposition. For example, even if a post on Facebook states “Company XX’s products are full of defects,” if there is proper substantiation for the post and it is considered to serve the public interest to make its content public, the privacy of the poster should be respected. As addresses and names are particularly important personal information, they cannot be disclosed easily. Therefore, the court will conduct thorough discussions and will only issue a disclosure order through a formal legal procedure if it determines that there has been a violation of the law.

The average attorney’s fees for this address and name disclosure procedure are as follows:

The retainer fee is approximately 300,000 yen, and the contingency fee is around 200,000 yen.[ja]

Step 4 in Identifying the Poster: Claim for Damages

If the request for disclosure of the name and address in Step 3 is granted, the name and address of the contract holder of the line used when the poster posted the article will be disclosed. This will enable you to make claims against the poster for things like attorney’s fees and consolation money.

If you make a claim for damages against the poster and it can be applied to the attorney’s fees, the victim will be able to avoid bearing the cost. However, there is a risk that the poster may not be successfully identified, or even if they are identified, the damages may not cover the attorney’s fees. We explain this point in detail in the article below.[ja]


While Facebook requires users to register their accounts with their real names, it is not impossible to register with a pseudonym. To identify a poster who has registered with a pseudonym on Facebook and is making malicious posts, it is necessary to go through multiple legal procedures. If the poster can be identified, it is possible to make a claim for damages against them.

However, the legal fees involved in this process are not cheap, so even if damages are paid, they may not cover the full amount of the loss. In the case of a platform like Facebook, which is operated by a foreign corporation, it is necessary to translate court documents and evidence into English, and additional costs will be incurred, including the acquisition of foreign corporate registration.

The process of identifying a poster requires advanced expertise and is a difficult procedure. If you want to identify a Facebook poster, it is recommended to consult a lawyer with extensive knowledge in dealing with defamation on the Internet.

Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

The Editor in Chief: Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

An expert in IT-related legal affairs in Japan who established MONOLITH LAW OFFICE and serves as its managing attorney. Formerly an IT engineer, he has been involved in the management of IT companies. Served as legal counsel to more than 100 companies, ranging from top-tier organizations to seed-stage Startups.

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