European courts forcing Facebook to withdraw illegal comments worldwide


Facebook is more than a platform to share opinions, photographs and videos. It is also a gigantic forum where thousands of offensive comments of a racist, sexist or simply insulting nature are spilled every day that encourage hatred and cross the borders of the law. Brussels has narrowed the siege against these messages by pressing the networks to act , and national courts could already ask companies such as Mark Zuckerberg to eliminate or block those attacks after denouncing the affected party. But European justice has gone this Thursday a step further. The EU Court of Justice has determined that nothing prevents the judges of a Member State from claiming worldwide suppression of illegal offenses spills in the social network, which does not imply, however, that it has the power to do so.

Community judges interpret that magistrates who have declared content illegal in an EU country are entitled to request that their prohibition be extended outside the Twenty-Eight. “Union law does not preclude Facebook from being forced to suppress identical comments and, under certain conditions, similar to a previously declared illegal comment,” it has ruled.

The former CJEU Daniel Sarmiento is skeptical about the consequences of the sentence. “The court says that EU law will not prevent a judge from having the ban applied worldwide, but its success will depend on international agreements between countries, if it will not be wet paper,” he concludes.

The pronouncement comes after the denunciation of the former Austrian deputy Eva Glawischnig-Piescze. The expat of Los Verdes was the target of offensive and defamatory comments by a Facebook user, who lashed out at her in a post that accompanied a press release in which her photo appeared and her statements were collected, in which she He favored providing minimum income to displaced refugees to his country.

An Austrian court declared that the comment was against the honor of the deputy, and consulted the Luxembourg Court on the matter. In its response, European justice gives judges free access to ask Facebook to suppress access to publications declared illegal worldwide, but always in accordance with “the framework of International Law”.

The decision has opened a debate about whether it is legitimate for a country’s justice to extend the prohibition of a digital publication beyond its borders. Those responsible for Facebook do not share that idea, and they see to the extent a danger to freedom of expression, since it could force them to use automated filters that are not always so precise as to eliminate exclusively the contents indicated as illegal.

The expansion of hate content on the restless Network in Brussels. In May 2016, the European Commission placed large Internet companies in the face of a dilemma: either they were used in depth to eliminate racist, xenophobic and sexist illegal content, or the EU would tighten the nuts with a regulation to which they would respond legally. Three years later, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter claim that they delete more messages than ever , and the majority in less than 24 hours, but Brussels’s surveillance of the phenomenon remains close.


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