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Facebook Suffers Legal Blow Over Hate Speech In Europe

 

Popular social media platform, Facebook was on Thursday dealt a major legal blow as a top European Court of Justice held that countries in Europe can order online platforms to remove defamatory content worldwide.

The European Court decision was considered a defeat for the social network as it could increase the company’s responsibility for appears on the internet.

European Union law ‘does not preclude’ courts from ordering ‘the removal of information or to block access worldwide,’ a statement by the court said.

The decision has been considered a victory for EU regulators, who want to see US tech giants meet tightened European standards over hate speech and offensive online content.

A statement said: ‘EU law does not preclude a host provider such as Facebook from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal.

‘In addition EU law does not preclude such an injunction from producing effects worldwide, within the framework of the relevant international law which it is for Member States to take into account’.

European Union law ‘does not preclude’ courts from ordering ‘the removal of information or to block access worldwide,’ a statement by the court said.

A Facebook user had ‘shared on that user’s personal page an article from the Austrian online news magazine oe24.at entitled “Greens: Minimum income for refugees should stay”, the statement said.

‘That had the effect of generating on that page a “thumbnail” of the original site, containing the title and a brief summary of the article, and a photograph of Ms Glawischnig-Piesczek.

‘That user also published, in connection with that article, a comment which the Austrian courts found to be harmful to the reputation of Ms Glawischnig-Piesczek, and which insulted and defamed her.’

The judgement, delivered by the European Court of Justice, ruled that the directive on electronic commerce does not prevent countries from ordering Facebook to remove ‘unlawful’ information.

It added that EU law does not prevent a Member State from ordering Facebook to remove information covered by the injunction or to block access to that information worldwide within the framework of the relevant international law.

The decision means platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are now under greater obligation to monitor the content of their users and remove comments deemed hateful.

17th October 2021
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