Syrian Migrant Says He's Tired Of Being The Subject Of 'Fake News,' Sues Facebook For Posts Linking Him To Terrorism
from the taking-on-the-Biggest-Blue dept
No sooner had Germany announced it was looking to start fining Facebook for the publication of "fake news" than we have a lawsuit being filed to take advantage of this brand new breed of criminal violation.
Syrian migrant Anas Modamani has announced he will sue Facebook over posts by users depicting him as a supposed participant in multiple terrorist attacks.
Modamani hired a lawyer to file an injunction against the Menlo Park-based social network alleging the company failed to remove racist posts, in violation of German hate speech laws. The legal action comes as Facebook faces mounting pressure to do something about the proliferation of fake news on the social network.
Modamani cites the country's hate speech laws, but news coverage seems to feel the disputed postings should be filed under "fake news." And it's not just the press coverage. Modamani's lawyer is using this exact phrase when issuing statements about his client's case.
Chan-jo Jun, a lawyer who in November 2016 prompted an investigation into Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives following a complaint alleging that the company had failed to remove racist posts, in contravention of German laws against hate speech, has taken on the case.
"Facebook is doing a very poor job with fake news," he told the BBC.
"But it is especially doing a poor job with illegal fake news.
"Not all fake news is illegal, but where it amounts to slander, as I believe this does, then it should be taken down."
Jun and Modamani are seeking an injunction blocking posts that associate him with terrorist activity. Considering Angela Merkel herself has announced her support of Facebook-fining litigation, Modamani presents a pretty nifty nexus. One of the photos attached to bogus reports of terrorist activity is a selfie he took with the German leader in 2015.
But "fake news" this is not. This may be the product of racism and/or internet denizens who feel they're called to be vigilantes/detectives. What it definitely isn't is Facebook's fault. Modamani had reported the images to Facebook, and Facebook took them down. What he wants now is for the images -- or any variations -- to stay down forever. But that's an impossibility. Obtaining a court judgment in his favor won't make it any more possible for Facebook to prevent images portraying him as a terrorist from resurfacing.
Because images falsely tying Modamani to terrorism are still available online, he and his lawyer appear to be moving quickly to take advantage of the prevailing anti-"fake news" mood and get this case into a (hopefully) sympathetic court.
In the United States, this would have no shot. Facebook performs all sorts of moderation, but things that slip by are the responsibility of the person posting them, rather than the platform hosting them. In the rest of the world… it's not nearly that simple. And in the case of alleged defamation-meets-hate crime, it's not tough to imagine a German court deciding it's Facebook's fault that idiot users keep posting BS on its site.