The European Court of Human Rights has made a decision that could surprise many human rights defenders. He acknowledged that criminalizing the owner of a Facebook account for someone else’s comments does not contradict the human rights convention. This means that any page owner is obliged to remove extremist comments of others as soon as possible.
The latest legal positions of Strasbourg were circulated in its latest review by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. Now all practitioners – judges, prosecutors, and lawyers – must be guided by just such international standards.
Today, all developed countries of the world pay attention to human behavior in social networks. In our society, both professionals and simply caring citizens are actively discussing the practice of punishment “for likes and reposts”, which, of course, needs to be improved. However, as it turns out, strict rules of online behavior are now being implemented in Europe as well. So anyone who thinks that absolutely everything can be done and said on the Internet in the West is terribly mistaken.
In this case, a resident of France reached Strasbourg, a member of the local council of deputies in one of the towns, maintains his Facebook page. There he has 1829 friends, whom he allowed to leave comments under his posts.
Two friends did not live up to the trust of a regional politician and left extremist comments on his page about the crime situation in the city. The police went to each of them and brought both of them to justice. Moreover, claims were made against the owner of the page. He was convicted under a criminal article and sentenced to a fine of 3 thousand euros.
The European Court ruled that the punishment was perfectly legal. No human rights violations were found by the Strasbourg judges. Moreover, the status of a deputy in this case played against the applicant.
The ECHR admitted: the owner of the Facebook page is obliged to promptly remove extremist comments on his posts
“He could not have been aware that his account would most likely attract comments of a political nature, which, by definition, were polemical and therefore should have been monitored by him even more carefully,” the ECHR emphasized.
Thus, Strasbourg clearly and unambiguously indicated: the owner of a page on social networks is obliged to follow the comments and remove everything illegal and obscene. Moreover: not quickly deleting someone else’s forbidden words will also be a violation.
In this case, the first comment was deleted by the owner within 24 hours, but the second was posted on the page for about six weeks.
According to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the ECHR noted that the owner and operator of the account on social networks bear joint responsibility.
The punishment was also considered proportionate. Therefore, the owners of pages throughout Europe should watch out not only for their own words, but also for the words of their friends.
Natalya Skryabina, a member of the Russian Bar Association, explained that they can also be punished for reposting someone else’s content.
“Reposting someone else’s” extremist “information can be qualified under Article 280 (public calls to carry out extremist activities), Article 280.1 (public calls to take actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation) or Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (incitement to hatred or enmity, and equal humiliation of human dignity), – she says. – At the same time, according to the explanations of the RF Armed Forces, this is possible only in cases where it is established that the person posted such material intentionally. persons to carry out extremist activities, which must be established by the court. “
At the same time, an analysis of the ECHR practice shows that our approaches are so far softer than European ones.