Internet Law

Defending against Facebook bullying – a practical challenge

The advantages of social networks are apparent. They allow people to stay in contact with millions of people worldwide by posting entries, links and comments. But what happens if the social network is used against you? Can you defend against Facebook bullying?

Defending against Facebook bullying – a practical challenge © simsalabin1-Fotolia

Defending against Facebook bullying – a practical challenge © simsalabin1-Fotolia

Facebook bullying

One person from Herford, Germany, experienced just such negative consequences of Facebook. He firstly attempted to solve the issue himself by contacting Facebook. However, he received reply only a standard e-mail in reply. After that, nothing happened. The man later contacted the police and then instructed a lawyer.

The lawyer obtained judgment from a German court ordering Facebook to delete the posts and to pay legal fees of around €480.

Ghost social network

Trying to assert rights against Facebook, however, is proving difficult. Both the Facebook subsidiary in Germany and Facebook Ireland Limited, which according to the social network’s information is responsible for data protection in Europe, failed to reply to correspondence from the complainant’s lawyer. They also failed to delete the material.

To make matters worse, Facebook’s German subsidiary can’t be contacted by telephone, as the company’s published contact details do not include a telephone number.

Enforcement

The question as to who the man should now contact is a difficult one to answer.

The data protection commissioner in North Rhine Westphalia points out that as it is the Irish subsidiary of the firm which is responsible for data protection within Europe, legal oversight and enforcement lies with the Irish authorities. However, the NRW commissioner considers the Irish authorities to be weak at pursuing Facebook in such cases.

It only remains for the Herford citizen and his lawyer to continue to fight for justice by publicising this case.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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