Man Fined By Court For ‘Liking’ Defamatory Comments On Facebook

A picture taken on October 9, 2015 in Madrid shows a computer screen displaying the Facebook webpage with the new "Reactions" options as an extension of the "like" button, to give people more ways to easily signal how they feel. Facebook will begin testing this new feature allowing users in Ireland and Spain to express a range of emotions on posts starting today, but there will be no "dislike" button, the social network said. AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The next time you hit the like button on any social media platform, it will help if you read this story.

A Swiss court fined a man for “liking” defamatory comments on Facebook in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

The man was ordered by the court to pay over $4,000.

According to a statement from the Zurich district court, the 45-year-old defendant accused an animal rights activist, Erwin Kessler, of racism and antisemitism and hit the “like” button under several comments from third parties about Kessler that were deemed inflammatory.

The comments were made in 2015 during heated discussions on a range of Facebook groups about which animal welfare groups should be permitted to take part in a vegan street festival, the Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger reported.

Kessler sued more than a dozen people who took part in those exchanges, a lawyer for one of the defendants, Amr Abdelaziz, said.

Several people have already been convicted in the case, mainly for comments they made. It appears the man convicted on Monday was the first to be sanctioned merely for “liking” comments made by others.

The court said it did not matter that the comments had not originated from the defendant, whose name was not given. By clicking the like button, “the defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own,” the court statement said.

The Zurich judge ruled the defendant had failed to prove that the comments he had liked on Facebook were true. At the same time, by liking the comments the man had disseminated them to his list of Facebook contacts, and “thus made them accessible to a large number of people”, the statement said.

His actions should thus be considered as an “affront to [Kessler’s] honour”, it added.

Source: The Guardian

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