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Court fines man $4,000 for “liking” the wrong Facebook posts

(Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A Swiss court has issued what may be the first-ever fine for clicking the “Like” button on social media, with CNN reporting that a man will have to pay a roughly $4,000 fine for liking—and thus, in the court’s view, sharing and endorsing—a series of statements that were found to be libelous. The comments in question were written by a third party, and apparently accused an animal rights activist of “anti-Semitism, racism and fascism.” (According to BBC News, the activist also successfully sued several other people making comments, but none for only hitting reaction buttons.)

“The defendant clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own,” the court said in a statement explaining its decision. For what it’s worth, the lethal like in question came before Facebook broadened its response buttons from the all-purpose “like,” allowing users to frowny face or flower obvious libel instead.

Facebook has distanced itself from the case, saying there was “no direct link” to its platform. In any case, the decision—which seems to be the first time that a “like” or other reaction button has been legally interpreted as “speech”—suggests just one more reason we all need to be careful while posting online, especially in Switzerland. Meanwhile, there’s still no word on what kind of penalty awaits anybody still using the Poke button in 2017.

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