The Farnham Herald did not breach the Editors’ Code of Practice in a story about a man assaulted on a night out which featured a picture taken from his Facebook account.
The Press Complaints Commission ruled the Tindle weekly did not breach Clauses 1 (accuracy) and 3 (privacy) of the code.
The man complained to the watchdog after being assured by police that he would not be identified.
He accused the newspaper of basing its story, which he says wrongly stated he became “embroiled” in a fight and “almost had his nose bitten off”, on comments from his Facebook page without verifying the information.
The Herald reporter claimed the complainant’s Facebook page was not protected by privacy settings and that inquiries with the police had been made. The paper also said it contacted the man for comment.
The complainant claims to have never received the message and believed that privacy settings were in place on his account.
The newspaper denied breaching the code and the PCC ruled in its favour, judging that the report was a “straightforward account of a newsworthy incident, substantially corroborated by local police, which included no gratuitous information about the complainant’s private life”.
Charlotte Dewar, head of complaints and pre-publication services, said: "This case demonstrates some of the challenges faced by editors when they contemplate publishing material taken from social networking sites.
"In this instance, the presentation of the story was critical to the Commission's conclusion that there was no breach of the Code."