A man made some of the most expensive mouse clicks in history, as he was convicted by a Swiss court simply for liking several “defamatory” comments on Facebook.
According to court statements, several Facebook users accused animal rights activist Erwin Kessler of racism and anti-Semitism through comments left on Facebook groups. Kessler has successfully sued several of the commenters for defamation, but it was announced on Tuesday that a 45-year-old defendant was also fined for clicking “like” on those comments — even though he didn’t write anything himself.
It is believed to be the first-ever instance of a person facing legal consequences simply for a “like,” according to the Guardian.
According to reports, Kessler was convicted under a Swiss anti-racism law nearly 20 years ago for comparing Jewish ritual slaughter methods to Nazi practices. It is unclear if the comments in question directly referenced Kessler’s arrest, but the Zurich court ruled that the defendant couldn’t prove that the comments were true.
By liking the comments, the defendant, who was not named, “clearly endorsed the unseemly content and made it his own,” according to the court statement.
His actions were also deemed an “affront to [Kessler’s] honor.”
The comments were made during a series of fiery discussions over which animal rights groups should be allowed to participate in a vegan street festival, according to the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.
Amr Abdelaziz, a lawyer for one of the other defendants, said the ruling could “have a large impact” despite being from a regional court, according to BBC.
“If the courts want to prosecute people for likes on Facebook, we could easily need to triple the number of judges in this country,” Abdelaziz said. “This could also obviously easily become an assault on the freedom of expression.”
The defendant was fined 4,000 Swiss francs, the equivalent of $4,100. The verdict can be appealed.