Court Rules Facebook May Be Sued for Censorship
Feb 17, 2016 05:43 AM EST
On Friday, a Parisian court ruled that social media giant, Facebook, can be sued in France. The reason behind this was because of their decision to remove the account of a user who posted a photograph of a famous nude painting that hails from the 19th century. According to the decision of the court, a legal precedent could be set in France; a country wherein over 30 million people use Facebook regularly.
Because of this court ruling, the court has ruled to hear the case of a 57-year-old Parisian whose account on Facebook had been suspended without notice five years ago. The man was a teacher and art lover who shared his favorite pieces on his account. When he posted The Origin of the World, a painting made by Gustave Courbet in 1866, his account was closed by the website for depicting female genitalia. At the time of his account's suspension, Facebook did not give any explanation for its decision in doing so.
With the court's decision, the social media's lawyers have argued that lawsuits such as these may only be heard by a specific court based in California since its headquarters is located there. They also believe that French consumer rights law is not applicable to its users based in France since the service is available for free worldwide.
These arguments were dismissed by the appeal court and upheld the lower court's decision depicting otherwise. According to the appeal court, Facebook's terms and conditions included a small clause that required any worldwide lawsuits to be heard by a Santa Clara court; which was unfair and excessive. The judges also said that each Facebook user signed a terms and conditions contract upon creating an account, which falls under consumer rights law in France.
The teacher is asking his account be reactivated. He is also seeking €20,000 in damages.