A Syrian refugee in Germany is suing Facebook for allowing the spread of fake news that included his picture, tying him to crimes that he did not commit.
In 2015, 19-year-old Syrian man Anas Modamani took a selfie with German chancellor Angela Merkel that went viral. It was an innocent photo, but it went viral again late last year for very different reasons. The selfie began to spread with false claims that Modamani was one of the suicide bombers involved with the Brussels airport attack last March. The picture was also shared over 500 times with fake news claiming Modamani was one of the men who set fire to a homeless person in a Berlin subway on December 25.
All perpetrators have been identified in both attacks, so Modamani is clearly innocent. However, instead of merely chalking the spread of his picture up to Internet trolls, the young refugee is taking the fight to Facebook itself.
“Anas Modamani is fighting back based on his personal rights, that no person is able to slander him or accuse him of crimes,” said Chan-Jo Jun, the man’s lawyer. “For Facebook fake claims and insults are not a breach of community standards, but most certainly a breach of German law.”
With fake news becoming such a hot-button topic for Facebook this year, you can bet this won’t be the last case challenging the social media giant on the matter.