German court finds Facebook not responsible for pre-emptively blocking offensive content under EU law

A German court has ruled against a Syrian refugee seeking a temporary injunction against Facebook for removal of defamatory posts linking him to militant attacks.

The posts in question were a number of photomontages in which the applicant was falsely identified as responsible for a number of terrorist attacks across Europe. The applicant’s lawyer filed for an injunction in January, “seeking to prevent Facebook from publishing the slanderous image of the Syrian refugee Anas Modamani in the context of terrorist attacks”.

The applicant sought removal of the defamatory posts when reported by users, but also for Facebook to actively seek out and delete illegal content. Facebookargued that there was no such obligation on the company, stating that there was no “miracle software” that would be able to fulfil Mr Modamani’s request.

The court in the southern city of Wurzburg found against Mr Modamani, the judge stating that the social media platform was neither a "perpetrator nor a participant" in what was "indisputable defamation" by Facebook users. It concluded that simply acting as a hosting provider did not make it responsible for pre-emptively blocking offensive content under European law.




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