×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

European Courts Can Order Facebook to Take Down Content Globally, Ruling Says

European courts have the power to order Facebook to take down content globally if that content is deemed illegal.

The European Court of Justice made the ruling Thursday in response to an Austrian politician, Green Party official Ewa Glawischnig-Piesczek, who wanted Facebook to remove disparaging comments about her that were found to be defamatory. Those comments, and “equivalent” posts, could be seen on the page of the original user and on other Facebook pages worldwide.

“E.U. law does not preclude a host provider like Facebook from being ordered to remove identical and, in certain circumstances, equivalent comments previously declared to be illegal,” the European Court of Justice said in a statement. “In addition, E.U. law does not preclude such an injunction from producing effects worldwide, within the framework of the relevant international law.”

The ruling could have broad implications for Facebook and similar platforms by putting a greater onus on them to monitor and filter content. Such online services have warned that freedom of speech could be eroded, even as they step up their own internal efforts to patrol for content deemed harmful to individuals, societies and even whole nations trying to conduct free and fair elections.

The case has highlighted the challenge that local legislatures and judiciaries have faced in trying to deal with the global Internet. The European Union has taken a more assertive stance, with courts ruling in favor of greater privacy and protections in terms of data collection and the so-called “right to be forgotten” – the right of individuals to have some information about them scrubbed from Google.

But those protections mostly apply within E.U. borders. Thursday’s decision by the European Court of Justice now allows for the removal of material globally.

The case at issue involved Facebook posts that used insulting language about Glawischnig-Piesczek, calling her a “traitor,” among other epithets. While in the U.S. such comments would be protected by the First Amendment, Glawischnig-Piesczek sued Facebook in an Austrian court, which ruled that the posts defamed her.

Thursday’s decision by the European Court of Justice, the E.U.’s highest court, cannot be appealed.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • Parker Posey

    Parker Posey Stars in 'Hunted,' First Podcast From Dick Wolf and Endeavor Audio (EXCLUSIVE)

    Parker Posey will star in prison-break thriller “Hunted,” the first podcast from Endeavor Audio and Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment. Posey (“Dazed and Confused,” “Scream 3,” “Superman Returns”) will star in the scripted podcast series alongside Brandon Scott (“13 Reasons Why,” “Dead to Me,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). In the eight-episode show, U.S. Deputy Marshal Emily Barnes (Posey) [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snapchat Grows to 210 Million Daily Users, Surpasses Q3 Revenue Expectations

    Snapchat is growing again, and getting better at monetizing all those eyeballs: The service ended its fiscal third quarter with 210 million daily active users, compared to 203 million at the end of Q2, its corporate parent Snap Inc. revealed as part of its earnings release Tuesday afternoon. Snap Inc. generated some $446 million revenue [...]

  • Fire TV News

    Amazon Launches Ad-Supported News Video App

    Amazon officially announced its long-rumored ad-supported news video service Tuesday. The new service will be available on Fire TV devices as well as Fire tablets, and rely on videos from publishers including CBS News, Reuters, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, People, Cheddar and others. News coverage served up through the app includes livestreams as well as on-demand [...]

  • Marvel-SiriusXM-podcasts

    Marvel Creating 'Substantial' Number of Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM

    Marvel’s Wolverine, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Star-Lord — and potentially more characters down the road — are getting their own podcasts on SiriusXM and Pandora. SiriusXM and Marvel Entertainment announced a multiyear pact under which Marvel will create a “substantial amount” of exclusive podcasts for SiriusXM and Pandora, including both scripted and unscripted series and [...]

  • Polygon

    Quibi Orders Daily Gaming-News Series From Vox Media’s Polygon

    Quibi latest idea about “essential” daily programming? A hopped-up, rapid-fire dispatch about video games and gamer culture. The mobile subscription-video startup, led by founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, ordered a daily culture and gaming news show from Vox Media’s Polygon. The yet-to-be-titled series will span headlines, trend deep-dives, first-look previews of new game [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content