Cyprus Mail

Paphos court orders Facebook to remove offensive comments (updated)

By Constantinos Psillides

The Paphos District Court has issued an injunction against social media giant Facebook, ordering the company to remove a number of offensive comments posted on a local business profile, aimed at a local man.

The comments, posted on February 4, accuse the man of criminal activities. The original post was still on Facebook on Wednesday morning.  It has over 1,000 shares.

The injunction is just the first step in the proceedings. The plaintiff has also taken the man behind the offensive comments to court, demanding €500,000 in damages.

Charalambos Savvides of the Ch. P. Savvides & Associates LLC law firm, which handled the case, told the Cyprus Mail that Facebook was not only required to remove the comments but also take steps to ensure that future related comments were taken down immediately.

“Any future comments aimed at my client, making similar accusations will be reported by him and the company is required to delete them, as per the court’s decision,” he said.

Savvides clarified that taking the case to court was not the first step. “My client had some of his friends reporting the comments to Facebook, pointing out that they were offensive and damaging to him. The company’s reply was that the comments did not violate community standards and thus could not be removed.”

Asked whether a Cyprus court had jurisdiction over a company based on the US, Savvides said that it was only possible because his client never agreed to the company’s terms and conditions.

“My client never had a Facebook account. Never. So he didn’t agree to the terms and conditions that clearly stipulate that if a Facebook user has any issue with the company, the only court responsible to resolve such a claim is a court in California.

Having never agreed to that, my client was well within his rights to file his case with the local court.”

The term in question can be found in the company’s terms of service page, filed under ‘Disputes’.

“You will resolve any claim, cause of action or dispute (claim) you have with us arising out of or relating to this Statement or Facebook exclusively in the US District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County, and you agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of such courts for the purpose of litigating all such claims. The laws of the State of California will govern this Statement, as well as any claim that might arise between you and us, without regard to conflict of law provisions,” the terms say.

According to Savvides the company has been notified of the court’s decision. “They knew the case was going on because they were contacted and asked to be present during the proceedings via a representative. Nobody showed up. We are hoping this is resolved without any further complications. Failure to comply with the court’s decision could jump start a discussion on whether Facebook must respect national courts’ rulings. We do not want that. We want this over as soon as possible,” he said.



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