A man in Switzerland has been fined $4,100 for liking posts on Facebook that a judge ruled defamatory.
CNN reports that an unnamed man was convicted of several counts of defamation by a Swiss court after the man “liked” comments deemed defamatory on a Facebook page. It was decided by the Zurich court that the man had indirectly endorsed and distributed the statements it found defamatory through the use of Facebook’s “like” button.
The man reportedly liked several posts written by another Facebook user that accused an animal rights activist of antisemitism, racism, and fascism. As the man was unable to prove that these claims were true in court, the statements were considered defamatory and libelous. The court said in a statement, “The defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own.”
The man was fined a total of 4,000 Swiss Francs ($4,100) but has the right to appeal his sentence. Facebook declined to comment on the case but said that it had “no direct link” to the company. It is believed that this is the first time that a Facebook “like” has been considered an endorsement in a court of law. Facebook upgraded their like system in 2016 to allow users to display a range of emotions.
Before February of 2016, users were only capable of placing a simple “thumbs up” like on posts or comments. Facebook then allowed users to add other reactions including “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad,” and “Angry.” Facebook spent more than a year developing these reactions and worked alongside sociologists and focus groups to determine which emotions would be best suited to Facebooks platform. However, some have voiced their concerns that Facebook does not allow users to express emotions such as fear or disagreement.