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Landmark case: Swedish court fines man for not deleting hate speech on Facebook

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Landmark case: Swedish court fines man for not deleting hate speech on Facebook
The man was an administrator of the group Stå Upp För Sverige (Stand Up For Sweden). Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
12:37 CEST+02:00
A 52-year-old man who neglected to delete racist comments in his Facebook group has been fined by a court in Sweden.

Patrik Markström, one of the administrators of the Facebook group Stå Upp För Sverige (Stand Up For Sweden), faced court for not deleting eight "grossly insulting" comments made by other people in the group.

Eskilstuna District Court said in a statement on Tuesday that it agreed with the prosecutor that the comments were clearly to be considered acts of agitation against ethnic groups.

Markström denied responsibility, saying he had not seen the comments.

However, according to the verdict seen by The Local, the court found that he must have seen six of these comments himself and actively intended not to remove them. The other two comments had also been brought to his attention, but he "remained passive" and showed "gross negligence" by not deleting them.

The court based its ruling on Sweden's law on bulletin board systems, which states that a person who provides such a forum could also be responsible for what is written by other users.

The law dates back to the late 1990s, before Facebook existed, but the court ruled that the social media site falls under the same legislation – a decision that could set a legal precedent in Sweden.

Legal experts said they believe the case could be appealed to Sweden's Supreme Court.

The Facebook group Stå Upp För Sverige was originally set up by Markström in 2017 under the name Stand Up For Peter Springare – a police officer who caused controversy after writing on his own Facebook profile that most of his cases involved foreign-born criminals.

Three months later the group had around 226,000 members. It later changed its name after Springare himself strongly criticized it and said he did not want to be associated with a group that "propagates xenophobic, racist and other degrading statements about immigrants or other people".

Eskilstuna District Court handed Markström a suspended sentence and a 19,200 kronor fine ($2,070).

 

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