A California court intends to order Facebook to disclose information on the origins of Hun Sen’s Facebook “likes” to opposition figure Sam Rainsy, following a San Francisco court hearing on Monday in a case with potential global implications for the social media giant, which is facing allegations that its platform aids authoritarian regimes.
“I’m likely going to give Mr Sam the ability to get some information from Facebook,” Judge Sallie Kim told the courtroom, according to American news outlet Bloomberg.
Rainsy first filed the request for information in February, claiming Hun Sen has “systematically misused” Facebook by buying likes and using the platform to make death threats. He contends that the information will aid his legal defence in Cambodia, where he has been convicted of defamation for accusing the premier of buying Facebook likes.
He requested a wide array of information, leading Facebook to reject the request in March, characterising it as an overly broad “fishing expedition”.
While Judge Kim agreed that Rainsy’s initial request was too broad, she said she will order Facebook to turn over information that directly relates to his politically tinged convictions.
A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rainsy has lived abroad since 2015 to avoid a slew of charges and convictions.
The Post first revealed that a surprising number of the premier’s Facebook fans seemed to be located abroad, with many coming from countries known to harbour so-called “click farms”, like India and the Philippines.
On Tuesday, Rainsy referred questions to his legal team, which did not respond to requests for comment. Former deputy opposition leader Mu Sochua said the decision shows “justice always prevails”, and claimed Hun Sen spent thousands of dollars a day on likes.
“How many schools and hospitals can be built” with that money, she asked in a message.