Janet Jackson’s ex-husband, the Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, is suing Facebook after a crypto scam used his image to promote itself in the Middle East without his permission.
Al Mana is claiming defamation, malicious falsehood and false advertising by the unnamed cryptocurrency firm, The Times reported on Feb. 23.
His defamation action has been filed in Dublin, Facebook’s European headquarters, where the legal framework for such cases is deemed to be more amenable for plaintiffs than the United States.
Defamation cases, according to Belfast-based defamation lawyer Paul Tweed, stand a greater chance of success in Europe, as Facebook allegedly attempts to “hide” behind the U.S.’ first amendment principles to evade its responsibilities to protect users’ reputations.
Reluctant to give interviews, Al Mana reportedly takes pains to restrict public information and coverage to his official personal site, wissamalmana.com. Recently, he has used the site to clarify that he has no social media accounts and that any profiles ostensibly linked to him “should not be quoted or used as a source of accurate information.”
Al Mana — estimated to be worth 1 billion euro — owns the exclusive regional rights to prestige brands such as Harvey Nichols, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Hermès, as well as the McDonald’s franchise for Qatar. He was married to the well-known pop star Janet Jackson between 2012 and 2017.
Tweed has previously represented the likes of Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh and Qatari critic Ghanem Nuseibeh against Facebook. He has also represented Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Nicolas Cage and Harrison Ford in Irish defamation actions.