facebook, facebook like, technology, law

A court has convicted a man for merely ‘liking’ a Facebook post, it has been reported.

In the first case of its kind in Switzerland, the 45-year-old unnamed defendant from Zurich was found guilty after he ‘liked’ several posts on Facebook accusing Erwin Kessler, the president of an animal rights group, of racism and anti-Semitism.

A discussion over which animal welfare groups should be allowed to take part in a large vegan street festival in Switzerland, Veganmania Schweiz led to the posts.

In the posts, Mr Kessler was described as a racist, anti-semitic or fascist and his organisation was described as a neo-Nazi association, were liked by a number of people, including the defendant.

Mr Kessler then brought a case against the defendant, arguing that by ‘liking’ the posts the man spread their content by making them visible to a larger number of people, and that he acted with intent to harm and without any justifiable cause.
According to Zurich court judge Catherine Gerwig, the mere act of liking the posts was “spreading a value judgement”.

She said that a ‘like’ is associated with a positive, meaning he clearly supported the posts’ content. The court ruled that the defendant couldn’t prove that the statements about Mr Kessler were true or that he had “serious reasons” to believe them to be so.

This is despite the fact that in 1998, Mr Kessler was in fact convicted of racial discrimination in relation to his efforts to prevent Jewish people practicing a religious ceremony.

However, the court said that because that incident was 20 years ago, the man had no right to like the Facebook posts.

In its statement, the court said it did not matter that the comments had not originated from the defendant, whose name was not given.

“By clicking the Like button, the defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own,” the court statement said.

The defendant received a two-year suspended sentence and a CHF4,000 ($4000) fine.

Other people have also since been convicted of defaming Mr Kessler in the Swiss cities of Zurich, Lucerne and Bern, according to the Tages Anzeiger.

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