Based on a landmark ruling of EU’s highest court, Facebook and other similar apps and websites will be ordered to withdraw illegal posts worldwide.
Furthermore, it is expected from the websites to remove every such illegal content, instead of having every post reported individually. Tech experts have supported that such a ruling is necessary with reference to global implications.
In the wake of the situation, Facebook said the judgment brought “critical questions around freedom of expression” to light.
The move followed the case of an insulting comment on Facebook about an Austrian politician, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek. The Austrian courts alleged the comment affected the politician’s reputation.
EU laws do not hold Facebook and other platforms responsible for the content posted by the users. The users are however expected to remove the posts immediately after they are reported. It was however unclear whether the EU directive could be overthrown by a court order. As a result, Austria’s Supreme Court issued a clarification from the Europe’s highest court.
It included the following points: illegal posts can be taken down if there is a relevant treaty or international law supporting it, if an EU country finds an illegal post in its courts; the websites and apps can be ordered to take down the identical copies of the post; lastly, platforms can be ordered to delete “equivalent” versions of such illegal posts, if the message conveyed is “essentially unchanged”.
Reports suggest, Facebook is unable to appeal against this ruling.
In reaction, Facebook commented, countries would have to “set out very clear definitions on what ‘identical’ and ‘equivalent’ means in practice”.
It said the ruling “undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country”.