Title

When a Politician Is Called a ‘Lousy Traitor,’ Should Facebook Censor It?

Document Type

Opinion

Publication Title

The New York Times

Publication Date

6-27-2019

Abstract

(Excerpt)

In April 2016, a Facebook user shared an article featuring a photo of the Austrian Green party’s leader at the time, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, along with added comments labeling her a “corrupt oaf,” a “lousy traitor” and “member of a fascist party.” The comments were apparently a protest of her support for refugees. Ms. Glawischnig-Piesczek claimed that she had been defamed and demanded that Facebook take down the post.

Facebook eventually did, but only once it was ordered to do so by an Austrian court — and in a way that made the post still viewable by users outside Austria. For Ms. Glawischnig-Piesczek, that wasn’t enough. She demanded that Facebook take down all photos of her accompanied by identical or “equivalent” commentary — commentary sending the same message in different words — and added, when the case was appealed to the Austrian Supreme Court, a demand that it do so for users outside Austria as well.

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