A Swiss court has convicted a man after he ‘liked’ a series of defamatory Facebook posts, in a case that could have widespread ramifications for social media use.
The unnamed defendant was convicted of defamation after the Zurich district court ruled liking the posts demonstrated he had “clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own.” (via BBC)
In the landmark case, the accuser, animal rights campaigner Erwin Kessler argued that by liking posts accusing him of racism and antisemitism, the defendant had made the content visible to a larger audience.
Judge Catherine Gerwig said the defendant was “spreading a value judgement” by liking six posts, Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports.
The case could set a prescient for future legal rulings pertaining to social media use, given this defendant did not write, nor actively seek to share the defamatory remarks, which were made by a third party.
Related: How to master Facebook privacy settings
In a journalistic sense, in the eyes of the law, there is little differentiation between the origin and the dissemination of defamatory content.
For example, if we at TrustedReviews were to repeat defamatory content from a news report, we could potentially be held as responsible as the source.
However, this is the first time someone has been convicted only for ‘liking’ comments made by others rather than actively repeating them by sharing posts.
The defendant was fined around £3,200, the AFP reports, subject to appeal.
Will this landmark case encourage you to show more discretion when liking comments on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.