In a case that could have major implications for Cambodia, exiled politician Sam Rainsy has filed a legal suit against Facebook, demanding it hand over any information which could prove that the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, purchased millions of ‘likes’ to appear popular on the social media platform.

A report in The Guardian notes that the lawsuit is the first time that Facebook has been sued for information regarding a world leader’s page, and could lead to Hun Sen's Facebook page being taken down. Rainsy, who led the recently banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue party in the 2013 election and now lives in exile in France, was taken to court for defamation after he made the claim that Hun had misused the social media website to falsify his own popularity.

After joining Facebook in 2016 Hun’s page was one of the fastest growing on the site, with three million likes within a matter of months. He now has more than nine million likes and in a recent report his Facebook page ranked third in global engagement among world leaders. However, analysis noted that 80% of the accounts that liked the Prime Minister’s page came from countries outside Cambodia, including, India, Mexico and the Philippines.

These are places where click farms – companies that sell fake social media popularity – are known to operate. Hun denied this proved any of the likes were fake, stating that it was simply an indicator of his global popularity. Rainsy’s lawyer Richard Rogers said the objective was to ‘uncover how the Hun Sen regime is misusing the platform to prop up its popularity and to give a false impression of its legitimacy'.

Full report in The Guardian