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Swiss court convicts man for ‘liking’ defamatory Facebook post

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Swiss court convicts man for ‘liking’ defamatory Facebook post
Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images North America/AFP

In what is a first for Switzerland, a 45-year-old man from Zurich has been convicted of defamation for ‘liking’ Facebook posts that accused another man of anti-Semitism and racism.

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The case dates from summer 2015 when the 45-year-old defendant ‘liked' several Facebook posts from various animal rights groups that accused Erwin Kessler, the president of animal protection association Vereins gegen Tierfabriken, of racism and anti-Semitism. 
 
Kessler then brought a case against him, arguing through a prosecutor that in ‘liking' the posts the defendant spread their content by making them visible to a larger number of people, and that he acted with intent to harm and without any justifiable cause.
 
At the trial on Monday Zurich court judge Catherine Gerwig said that in ‘liking’ the posts the 45-year-old defendant was “spreading a value judgement”, reported the Tages Anzeiger.
 
A 'like' is associated with a positive, she said, meaning he clearly supported the content of the posts.
 
He couldn’t prove that the statements about Kessler were true or that he had "serious reasons" to believe them to be so.
 
Though Kessler was in fact convicted of racial discrimination back in 1998, that does not mean he can be accused of racism without current proof some 20 years later, found the court.
 
The Zurich man was handed a suspended fine.

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