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Swiss court fines man for ‘liking’ ‘unseemly’ Facebook posts

A man in Switzerland has been convicted of defamation, saying that "liking" the Facebook posts was an indirect endorsement of the comments, and also helped spread the libelous content even further. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/GettyImages)

A court in Zurich, Switzerland, has become the first court to convict a social media user of a crime for merely "liking" comments that were determined to be untrue.

The court convicted the 45-year-old Swiss man of several counts of defamation this week, saying that "liking" the Facebook posts was not only an indirect endorsement of the comments, but also helped spread the libelous content even further on the website.

Animal rights activist Erwin Kessler sued the defendant, and over a dozen others, after another social media user in 2015 posted claims that Kessler was anti-semitic, racist, and fascist. The defendant, who "liked" six comments regarding the claims, was the only person convicted for simply "liking" comments made by others.

"The defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own," the court said in its decision, adding that the defendant couldn't prove that the claims waged against Kessler were true. It also said that "liking" the comments made them accessible to more Facebook users, which was "an affront to [Kessler's] honor," according to the BBC.

The man was fined 4,000 Swiss francs for the crime, which is roughly equivalent to $4,100. He can still appeal the conviction.

At the time the controversial posts were made in 2015, Facebook did not yet have the various reaction options they currently employ, including buttons for a range of feelings such as "like," "love," "sad," or "angry." Until February 2016, the only reaction option to any post, short of commenting, was the standalone "like" button.

Facebook denied any involvement in the case, saying the case had "no direct link" to the company. A spokesperson for the social media giant declined to comment further.





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