The 13th Civil Senate of the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg has in an urgent procedure obliged Facebook to reinstate an originally deleted post. The right to freedom of expression would otherwise be unduly restricted, the judges said.
The complaining Facebook user had criticised a member of the Central Council of Muslims on his account, describing it as cowardly for deleting certain information from the network. The background was that the member of the Central Council had expressed negative opinion about an Islam critic. Facebook deleted the plaintiff’s criticism. The allegations made are untrue and offensive. It was “hate speech.”
Under the Network Enforcement Act, Internet platforms such as Facebook must delete illegal comments. “Hate speech” should not be allowed to stop on the net. Even under Facebook’s terms and conditions, “hate speech” is prohibited. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a comment is illegal or not.
The district court rejected the plaintiff’s request to require Facebook to reinstate the post. On the other hand, the plaintiff went to the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg. After proving the facts he claimed, the plaintiff succeeded. Neither the presentation of correct facts nor the assessment of an act as cowardly are unlawful. The assessment constitutes an admissible expression of opinion.
When applying its terms and conditions, Facebook must also consider whether a person’s right of personality is more important than the protection of another person’s freedom of expression when applying its terms and conditions. In the present case, the limit to “hate speech” has not yet been crossed. The matter is also urgent, so that a decision must be taken by means of a temporary injunction, the Senate said. Otherwise, the applicant runs the risk that Facebook would delete another similar post, thereby deprising the applicant’s ability to express his opinion freely.