Swiss man is convicted of defamation over Facebook ‘like’

It’s time watch what you go liking on Facebook as it might turn around and be used against you in court.

A Swiss Facebook user who like a post accusing another user of anti-Semitism and racism (typical day in the world of Facebook if you ask me) has been found guilty and convicted of defamation in a landmark ruling.

While it’s clear things that you post on Facebook can absolutely construe defamation, this is the first time that throwing a like onto a post has been seen as endorsing and therefore repeating a defamatory statement. I can’t held but wonder if I now need to look over all those likes I’ve made in the past.

The unnamed 45-year-old man liked a few posts attacking president of an animal rights group, Erwin Kessler. The posts described Kessler and his group as anti-Semitic, fascist and racist. Kessler brought the case against the defendant, by claiming that in liking the posts it extended the post’s reach, meaning it was seen by a greater number of people.

Judge Catherine Gerwig who overlooked the case agreed, saying that by liking the posts the defendant was indeed “spreading a value judgement.”

While Media lawyer Martin Steiger told newspaper Tages Anzeiger that we shouldn’t be too worried about this judgement giving other judges and plaintiffs ideas about Facebook likes and what they mean. It always depends on what a ‘like’ means and what someone was aiming to achieve with it. A ‘like’ might not always mean that someone likes the content of a post. Eg. In cases of an accident where the user likes the post to express sympathy.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that doesn’t find this overly reassuring. This is a very interesting and troubling precedent, and I’m sure this isn’t the last time we see use of it.

Just a friendly reminder, watch what you post and like on Facebook peeps, you never know when it is gonna turn around and bite you on the ass!


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