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Why Should You Follow The Comments in Social Networks | InLaw Boutique

Ганна ЮДКІВСЬКА, ECHR judge:

Don`t miss the important decision of the ECtHR in the field of freedom of speech on social networks - Sanchez v. France.

The case raises a new question - about the limits of liability of account holders on social networks due to unacceptable comments from third parties under the posts (the previous key case of Delfi AS concerned the responsibility of Internet portals for hate speech).

The court first pointed out that the account holder has special responsibilities for control and vigilance, in particular, if he decides to make his account public, gives the opportunity to comment to anyone, and publishes content that could potentially provoke hate speech. In this situation, the quick reaction of the owner is critical.

The applicant, a local MP and parliamentary candidate, was convicted of inciting hostility for failing to immediately remove hateful comments from third parties (concerning the Muslim community, which in the comments was associated with crime in the city and equated to a group of “drug dealers and prostitutes ”) under his Facebook post criticizing his political opponent. According to the Court, by knowingly making his Facebook account public, and thus allowing his friends, a total of 1,829 people, to post comments there, the applicant was obliged to follow the content of the published comments. In addition, he could not help but know that his post was likely to attract political comments, which he should have followed even more closely. The court did not find a violation of the Convention in the applicant's conviction, which did not remove the relevant comments within 6 weeks.

One judge disagreed, saying that the use of the "derivative" responsibility of a Facebook account holder is a threat to freedom of speech, especially in the case of public figures with a very large number of "friends". The finding that there has been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention places a heavy burden of control on the account holder and can turn him into a censor of words written on his wall.

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