Syrian Refugee Sues Facebook Over Fake News

By on February 7, 2017

A Syrian refugee is taking the social media giant to a German court over spread of fake news containing a picture of him. A selfie of the young man with German chancellor Angela Merkel was used in a series of fake news relating him to terrorism.

Anas Modamani, a 19 year old refugee from Syria took the selfie (shown above) with Merkel in Berlin back in 2015. His picture was later linked to last years Brussels airport bombing in various fake news on the social media site. He was also accused of torching a homeless German.

“I saw my picture posted [on a story about the Brussels airport bombing] … But of course, this was not me!I thought immediately: What does this mean? What about my future? This is really no joke now. This is serious,” Madamani told CNN.

Modamani is asking Facebook to stop sharing of the photo and delete all the fake news that have already been spread by several accounts.

The Selfie went viral before fake news

The pictured had previously gone viral as a sign of Merkel’s open-door policy for asylum seekers and refugees. Later it was used in various fake news linking the man to terror attacks including the December attack on a Christmas market.

“Some people are trying to harm the reputation of the refugees like me and they are using Facebook to spread hatred against us,” Modamani told Reuters.

The last hearing of the case was held on Monday and a ruling is expected on March 3. Germany is preparing a legislation forcing Facebook to remove hate speech and fake news within 24 hours or face fines.

Facebook to cooperate with Madamani

Facebook on the other hand has announced that it has removed two posts related to the fake news and it is simply impossible to remove all the other posts.

“We have already quickly disabled access to content that has been accurately reported to us by Modamani’s legal representatives, so we do not believe that legal action here is necessary or that it is the most effective way to resolve the situation,” a spokesman for the social media site said.

man sues facebook over fake news

Syrian refugee Anas Modamani (L) accompanied by his lawyer Chan-Jo Jun attends a court session against Facebook, Feb 6, 2017.

He noted that the company has asked Modamani’s legal team to point out posts related to the picture for it to independently look into them.

“They have so far refused to do so despite us providing clear instructions as to the precise information that we require,” said a statement released by the site.

Modamani’s lawyer, Chan-jo Jun, has stressed that Facebook’s content limitations were inconsistent. “Nudity is forbidden, but hate only in certain circumstances,” he added.

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