Man Fined $4,000 for 'Liking' Facebook Comments
Reacting to content on Facebook can be achieved by commenting, sharing or probably the most popular method: hitting that Like button. However, a court in Switzerland just convicted a man on defamation claims simply for "Liking" libelous comments posted on the social network.
The comments posted on Facebook referred to an animal rights activist who was accused of "antisemitism, racism and fascism." To be clear, the man in court did not write these comments, he simply hit the Like button for them. These Likes were made between July and September 2015. That's before Facebook expanded the Like button to include several other reactions.
According to CNN, the court in Zurich decided to convict the man on several counts of defamation for hitting the Like button. The reason given was his clicking of the Like button constituted "indirectly endorsing" the comments. But further to that, the court also recognized the act of liking the comments as "further distribution" of them. A statement made by the court said, "The defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own."
Although the defendant has the right to appeal, his punishment for being found guilty amounts to a $4,100 fine. As for Facebook, they are declining to comment on the court case beyond stating the social network sees "no direct link" to the company.
Regardless of what comments were made on Facebook, should the act of hitting the Like button result in a lawsuit? What's more clear is, if the comments are libelous, then the person who wrote them can be pursued for prosecution.
However you feel about this court case, it's important to keep in mind such action can be taken against an individual. Does the expansion of the Like button to include several types of reaction to a comment make the situation better or worse? I guess we won't know that until another Facebook Like button lawsuit happens.