Here’s why a Syrian refugee is suing Facebook in Germany

A migrant takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside a refugee camp near the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees after registration at Berlin's Spandau district, Germany September 10, 2015.

Facebook is under pressure again in Germany, this time in a new legal battle over a selfie taken by a Syrian refugee.

Nineteen-year-old Anas Modamani snapped a shot of himself with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visited the shelter he was living at in 2015. He says the photo, which went viral as an emblem of Merkel’s openness to migrants and refugees, has since been used in countless fake news articles linking him to terrorist acts.

On Monday, Modamani filed for an injunction in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria that would require Facebook to prevent use of the image in fake news items and to delete all existing posts that use it, the New York Times reports. A ruling is expected on March 3.

The image of Modamani was reportedly used on fake news articles in the wake of the attacks last year in Brussels and Berlin. According to the Times, the image was also recently posted by a Facebook user who claimed the young Syrian was involved in a violent attack on a homeless man.

“I want peace in my life,” the Times quoted Modamani as saying after his Monday hearing. “Not everyone believes that. Many people hate me, but all I did was take a selfie with Ms. Merkel.”

Facebook said in a statement that it had “already quickly disabled access to content that has been accurately reported to us” and that the company’s lawyers “do not believe that legal action here is necessary or that it is the most effective way to resolve the situation,” CNN reports.

The case is one of several against the social media giant in Germany, where a national debate is intensifying over who should be held responsible for erroneous material shared online. Like many other countries in recent years, Germany is grappling with populist disinformation in the lead-up to a general election later this year.

Germany already has strict anti-hate speech laws, but the debate now centers on whether the host site or the individual perpetrator should bear responsibility for the spread of fake, defamatory or inflammatory content. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has suggested holding companies like Facebook accountable, according to the Times.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to recent concerns about false and inflammatory content by changing a few features of the platform, but critics say the measures don’t go far enough.

This story originally appeared on Copyright 2017

Social – VentureBeat

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