Top German court sides with lawmaker over slurs on Facebook

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FILE PHOTO: Facebook’s rebrand logo Meta and a 3D printed Facebook logo are seen in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

February 2, 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s constitutional court on Wednesday sided with a politician seeking the personal data of several Facebook users to take legal action over slurs against her on the platform.

Greens lawmaker Renate Kuenast had requested the data to pursue the authors of 22 insulting comments, many of which were of a sexist or violent nature.

The court said the comments stemmed from a blog and subsequent posts about a debate regarding statements by party members in the 1980s about paedophilia.

The judges at the Karlsruhe court rejected the decisions of two Berlin courts, which had ruled only 12 out of the 22 comments were liable to prosecution, denying Kuenast the user data for the other 10.

The judges said the earlier courts failed to properly weigh the rights over a person’s image against that of freedom of opinion and overturned the decisions, sending the case back to Berlin for re-evaluation of the 10 comments based on their stipulations.

A decision by the Berlin appeals court on whether those comments are now liable for prosecution will determine whether Facebook must release the data.

The ruling comes days after Twitter joined Facebook and Google in taking legal action against an expanded version of Germany’s hate-speech law, which the social media companies criticise as violating users’ right to privacy.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Alison Williams)

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