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Facebook can be forced to remove content worldwide, EU court rules

National courts in EU member states can order Facebook to delete content “worldwide”, Europe’s top tribunal has ruled, in what the US social media giant called an attack on free speech.

If content was deemed “illegal” by a national court, then Facebook could be ordered to “remove information covered by the injunction or to block access to that information worldwide”, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in Luxembourg on Thursday (3 October).

The judgment means social platforms can be forced to seek out hateful content deemed illegal by a national court in the 28-country bloc rather than wait for requests to remove posts as it currently does under EU rules.

Facebook and other platforms can also be made to comply with requests to take down content globally, even in countries where it is not illegal, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled.

Reacting, Facebook said the EU ruling could have “chilling effect” on free speech. “It undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country. It also opens the door to obligations being imposed on internet companies to proactively monitor content and then interpret if it is ‘equivalent’ to content that has been found to be illegal,” the company said.

Vivian Asamoah with agency reports

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