Henry: handball trouble

FIRST they stole our place at next summer's World Cup. Now, they're taking our identities too. French users of Facebook have been hijacking Irish accounts to sing their praises of Thierry Henry.

Irish users have been incensed to see their names and profile pictures reemerge as fresh accounts by suspected French fans and then used to insult the Irish in an online stand-off that has continued since that infamous handball.

One irritated Ireland fan says his personal details kept showing up, but weren't being posted by him and despite repeated reports to Facebook the page would not go away.

The ability to mimic other people's accounts will be of considerable concern to the popular social-networking site which last month released a range of new security features.

David Gantly from Dublin said he had joined in the online debate on Henry and Ireland's disastrous World Cup qualifier, only to discover his identity had been hijacked.

"I went in and saw that someone had actually duplicated my site. They had taken my picture and my name and began typing stuff," he said.

"Someone is copying my details and I don't like that. At the moment it's only the Thierry Henry page, which is okay, but I don't want it going any further. Facebook is always putting up these posts saying your privacy is our most important concern. Then you go on and see that people are duplicating your account," he said. "I don't know if this is a French guy, but his English is terrible. It says: 'I am an idiot; I am a stupid Irishman', lots of comments that come up with my picture beside them."

The duplicate site was removed only after Facebook was contacted by the Sunday Tribune. A spokeswoman said such behaviour is not tolerated and is against its terms.