A German court ruled this week to dismiss the case brought against Facebook by a Syrian refugee who wanted the social media giant to find and delete posts incorrectly labeling him a terrorist.
The controversy began in in 2015 when 19-year-old Anas Modamani took a selfie with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Another photo was also taken of the encounter between the refugee and the world leader. Both pictures have subsequently been used in anti-immigrant posts accusing Modamani of many incidents of crimes and terrorism across Europe.
Modamani’s lawyer, Chan-jo Yun, hoped the case would force Facebook to actively search out and delete slanderous material. However, Facebook said that it does not have the “miracle software” needed to accomplish this, and it will still be up to users to flag illegal or offensive content for removal. Yun did not care for the site’s line of reasoning.
“This is a cynical argument: it means that the only way an individual could stop a slanderous story from going viral is by calling a court within two or three hours of the content being uploaded,” he said. “We learned a lot from this case… People have learned that Mr. Modamani is not a terrorist. We lawyers have learned that we cannot help victims of libel and slander with the laws we have. But we have learned which laws have to be changed.”
Indeed, this was a big win in court for Facebook — and it means that users need to be as vigilant as ever in finding and reporting illegal content.