Courts in the EU Can Order Facebook to Remove Defamatory Content Globally and Monitor Republication

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has held that the EU eCommerce Directive does not preclude courts in member states of the EU from ordering Facebook to remove defamatory content on a worldwide basis rather than just within the platform’s instances in the EU. The decision was delivered in a lawsuit brought by an Austrian politician who had been defamed on Facebook and demanded that Facebook remove the defaming posts. 

The CJEU also held that while a court of an EU Member State may not grant an injunction against an online service requiring it to monitor generally the information which it stores or to actively seek facts or circumstances underlying the illegal content, such a prohibition does not concern the monitoring obligations ‘in a specific case’. Therefore, courts in the EU are authorized to order Facebook to monitor attempts to republish the defamatory content or other content substantially equivalent to it, where the differences in the wording of that equivalent content, compared with the original content, are not such as to require Facebook to carry out an independent assessment of the legality of the equivalent content.

CLICK HERE for the EUCJ’s opinion in Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland Limited.