A Swiss court has convicted a man for his ‘likes’ on Facebook. The 45-year-old unnamed defendant was told by the court in Zurich that because he had a ‘liked’ a post written by someone else regarding Erwin Kessler, who heads the animal rights group Verein gegen Tierfabriken (VgT), he was responsible for the words it contained, which alleged that Keller is a racist and an anti-semite.
The posts arose from a debate on Facebook concerning whether animal rights groups should take part in a large street vegan festival in Switzerland, the Veganmania Schweiz. Some left posts on Keller accusing him of racism and anti-semitism, which the defendant then ‘liked’. Kessler brought a case against the unnamed defendant, claiming that because these Facebook ‘likes’ helped to spread the accusations even further, he should be convicted. The court agreed, with Judge Catherine Gerwig saying at the trial that in liking the Facebook posts they were “spreading a value judgement”.
This was despite Kessler being convicted for racial discrimination in 1998 for trying to prevent the uplifting of a ban on the Jewish practice shechita, a Jewish religious method of slaughtering animals for food in order to produce kosher meat. However, because no current proof was provided for Kessler being racist now, the case against him for his Facebook ‘likes’ still stands.
The man was fined 4,000 Swiss Francs.