Internet Law

No right to be Facebook group administrator

According to a court in Germany, the purpose of a Facebook group is to facilitate freedom of expression. A Facebook group is not a legal entity. Therefore rights and responsibilities cannot be derived from it and consequently a person cannot possess a right to be appointed group administrator.

No right to be Facebook group administrator © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

No right to be Facebook group administrator © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Facebook group administrator

The claim (09.01.2013, Az.: 4C 409/12) was brought against the founder of a Facebook group by the former group administrator, who wished to be re-appointed.

The defendant had created a Facebook group with his email account. The aim of the group was to share opinions on a particular political event. As the creator of the Facebook account, the defendant was authorised to appoint other people as administrator.

Initially, the claimant had been authorised to administer the group, but the authorisation was withdrawn after the two fell out.

Creator of Facebook group retains all rights

The court held that there is no right to be appointed administrator of a Facebook group.

In its reasoning, the court took the view that a Facebook group is not a legal entity and therefore no rights or duties can be derived from it.

The court held that a Facebook group cannot be classed as a legal partnership, as there is a lack of financial commitment, for example in the form of membership fees. Also a Facebook group cannot be classed as a club, society or association, as the members of the Group do not aspire to achieve long-term goals.

Freedom of expression

The group’s sole purpose, according to the court, was to allow members to exchange their view on a particular political topic. The court noted that there is no obligation to join the group, members can leave at any time and that the creator of the group has the right to delete it entirely.

The court concluded that the creator must therefore also possess the right to award and withdraw administration rights to other people.

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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