FACEBOOK: INSULTS PUBLISHED WITH RESTRICTED ACCESS ON A SOCIAL NETWORK DO NOT CONSTITUTE SLANDER

Cass. 1ère civ. 10 April 2013, n°11-19.530 (French)

Should Facebook be considered a public space?

Not necessarily. In a judgement on 10th April 2013, the Court of Cassation stated that comments published by an employee on open accounts such as Facebook or MSN, if they were only accessible by a restricted number of persons approved by them, do not constitute slander.

Consequently, the offence of slander or public defamation cannot be argued.

This would probably not be the case where the number of ‘friends’ is very great or the profile is public.

In employment law, the effect of this decision is significant. It confirms that comments published on social networks can be considered private, which denies the employer the possibility of using such comments to sanction a careless employee.

However, the Social Division of the Court of Cassation has not yet ruled clearly on this question.

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