Online companies such as Facebook may be forced to seek out and delete unlawful insults for similar or similar expressions. This was decided on Thursday by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. EU law does not preclude decisions of national courts, the court ruled. Taking into account the relevant international law, even a worldwide deletion can be arranged.

The background is the complaint of former Austrian Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig against comments on a Facebook page. The politician was insulted in connection with the refugee policy, inter alia, as "lousy traitors. After a court decision, Facebook blocked access to the original post in Austria. The Supreme Court finally had to deal with the dispute with the question of whether and in what form Facebook must be active worldwide. The Austrian court asked the ECJ to interpret the relevant EU directive.

Automatic deletion of similar comments

The policy states that so-called host providers, such as online network operators, are not responsible for information published by the users until they are made aware of their illegality. At the same time, under the Directive, a host provider can not generally be required to monitor information stored on it or to actively seek illegal action.

In the view of the Luxembourg judges, online networks may be required by courts to erase or block offenses deemed unlawful - regardless of who has given the order for storage. "Equivalent" comments, on the other hand, need to be similar enough that they can be identified and filtered out using "automated techniques and means of investigation". The ruling could strengthen the position of victims of hatred in the network.