Facebook ordered to take down hateful posts in landmark judgment

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Facebook has been ordered by an Austrian court to take down hateful posts written on a fake profile in landmark freedom of speech ruling. The Green Party in Austria launched the court action against Facebook Ireland Limited, with respect to the comments on fake profile made about MP Eva Glawischnig. The Green Party has won the preliminary injunction against the posting, at a Court in Vienna.

Social media chiefs have been told they must delete the remarks as soon as they can, in a move that could create a precedent for other cases around the world.

Facebook user ‘Michaela Jaskova’ – a fake profile – had described Glawischnig in April this year as a ‘rotten traitor’ and a ‘corrupt tramp’. The Greens said Facebook was responsible because the post was not deleted despite multiple requests.

This is being considered as a ‘first round’ win, with Facebook by winning a preliminary injunction against the offensive posting at the Commercial Court of Vienna. This is the first decision of this type not only in Austria but across Europe. It has now turned out that Facebook, which normally relies on its own automated community standards and terms and conditions, cannot escape the Austrian legal jurisdiction. The social media company normally quotes Californian law, where the head office is based, which is not as stringent as Europe’s defamation laws which laws have this time provided no cover.

The Greens are already planning further legal steps stating that the posts were not deleted, but only blocked for Austrian users. They have said this is not enough as it remains visible to the rest of the world.

Facebook has recently been under constant attack for turning a blind eye to hateful posts as well as disseminating false news.

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