Facebook can be sued if it tries to censor content, rules French Court

French Court allows Facebook user to sue Facebook for censoring his content

A French court has delivered a verdict that can have multitude of legal implication for Facebook not only in France but worldwide. The High Court in Paris said that a Facebook user can sue Facebook for censoring his content and ruled that American social media giant Facebook can be taken to court in France.

Frédéric Durand-Baissas, a teacher in France had posted a picture of L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), an 1866 painting by Gustave Courbet that hangs in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, on his Facebook account.

The picture, which is a work of art and depicts a close-up of the female genitalia, was deemed “too offensive” for Facebook and removed by it, further it blocked Durand-Baissas from using Facebook.

Durand-Baissas approached the High Court of Paris arguing his freedom of expression had been violated, “I felt like they were indirectly treating me like a *****grapher whereas this is a French painting hanging in a museum. It annoys me to be censored,” he told BFM TV.

Arguing his case, his lawyer, Stéphane Cottineau said that 28 million Frenchmen using Facebook should have the liberty of taking any issue they have with Facebook, to a French court.

Facebook on the other hand argued that the French court had no jurisdiction over the matter as Durand-Baissas had signed Facebooks EULA which stipulate that disputes can only be resolved in a California court. It also said that Durand-Baissas should not expect French consumer rights as the Facebook as a service was free and further he had opened the FB account on his own accord.

The Paris High court found Facebook’s arguments disputes against it can be tried only in California court as “abusive” and ruled in favour of Durand-Baissas.

Durand-Baissas is now free to approach a French court for redressal against Facebook’s censorship, which he already has. He is demanding $21000.00 (€20,000 /£14,000) in compensation from Facebook and to have his account reactivated.

This case will however be heard at a later date but as of now the Paris high court’s verdict can set a precedence for courts in France as well as other countries to base their judgements on censorship.

Abhishek Kumar Jha
Abhishek Kumar Jha
Knowledge is Power


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