Facebook Sued by Syrian Teen Over Fake News


Fake news on Facebook has landed the social network in trouble over and over in the past year and now the company is being sued by Anas Modamani, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee who currently resides in Germany, for his selfie with Angela Merkel surfacing in fake news articles linking him to terrorism.

Christopher/Flickr CC

The selfie was clicked in 2015 when Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed hundreds of thousands of Syrian’s to take refuge in Germany and quickly went viral — being shared as a symbol of good will that the German Chancellor had shown to those seeking asylum.

The same selfie has shown up on numerous fake news posts on the social network, linking him to the Brussels bombings in March 2016 and Berlin attacks in December 2016.

Modamani has filed for an injunction in a court in Wurzburg, Bavaria, demanding that Facebook removes all fake news posts that have used his photo and also prevent the photo from being shared on the social media network.

The Syrian is currently facing defamation, according to his lawyer but Facebook’s lawyers have stated that the company lacks resources and technique to counter every fake news post or photo being shared on their network.

10 FACE / Shutterstock.com

“I want peace in my life. Not everyone believes that. Many people hate me, but all I did was take a selfie with Ms Merkel,” said Anas Modamani, as quoted by the New York Times.

The California-based social media network had come under German government scrutiny this past November for allowing hate speech content go viral on its network among German users and had started efforts to curb fake news in the country too.

Facebook has recently launched its fake news monitoring systems in Germany and France too, ahead of national elections in both the countries.

Facebook has stated they can’t be held responsible for the defamation case, but those who posted these pictures should be.

Last month, Germany’s Federal Justice Ministry and Consumer Protection had warned officials at Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg, that defamation laws in Germany are harsher than in USA.

A final ruling on the case is expected to be made on March 3, 2017, and will add to several other legal battles Facebook is fighting in Europe.

While the company’s lawyer maintains that there is no tech in order to avoid such things happening in the light that there are billions of posts on the social network each day, but as it is said, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.

If Mark Zuckerberg wants his company to help his personal as well as philanthropic goals, he’ll have to ensure that his community doesn’t become a platform that causes altercation in the real world between people or communities, leading to violence.

It is no one else’s but the social network’s responsibility to ascertain that their platform, which is close to two billion strong, remains a place which doesn’t become a nuisance for the people using it.

Also See

Join the newsletter


Written By


Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.