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Meta Will Unmask Anonymous Dutch Facebook User Accused of “Defamation”

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The Netherlands seems like a “land of the free” to some from the outside – at the very least, you are allowed to freely use narcotics still banned in most countries around the world.

So help yourself to that addiction – but if your “addiction” is to speak your mind, be “defamatory” (or accused of that online), and hope to remain anonymous – good luck.

Why people still use Facebook is up to them – but if they do, what the company is doing in this European country should dissuade them once and for all, if they have any notion of being anonymous online.

Sure, you can use a “nickname” – but if somebody wants to know who you are in the physical world, and have the habit of posting on Facebook – then those who want to know your actual name and address will get it from Facebook (Meta).

That’s the long and the short of a ruling of a Dutch court that ordered Facebook (specifically its European operation based in Ireland) to unmask a user, accused of “manipulating and making secret recordings of women he dated.”

Just like the “think of the children!” trope – this kind of justification is what most sane persons can get behind immediately. Fine – stop this guy – but then, where does it actually stop? For every other user, in a myriad other scenarios?

For the moment, that big picture perspective is what we don’t have from media reports. Instead, we know what the particular case, that could pave the way for a precedent of untold proportions, is about.

There are people in the world who go to Facebook to discuss their “dating experiences,” and the user, whose real identity has now been ordered to be “damasked,” was one of those. The comments the user posted appeared on “at least” two private groups on the platform.

The “subject” of these posts naturally disliked it, claiming reputation harm, but Facebook was not so sure. “It is not clear to us that the content you reported is unlawful as defamation,” is how the giant had put it.

Next, the claimant was told that perhaps, the issue should be resolved privately (this doesn’t seem to be a case of “revenge porn” or anything on that magnitude).

But then, the lawsuit came, despite Meta apparently “defending the anonymous user’s right to freedom of expression.”

And now, the court “ordered Meta to provide ‘basic subscriber information’ on the anonymous user, including their username, as well as any names, email addresses, or phone numbers associated with their Facebook account’,” – but not to remove the posts, “or flag any others that may have been shared in private groups,” say reports.

The cherry on the court order’s cake:

“According to settled case law, under certain circumstances Meta has an obligation to provide identifying data, even if the content of the relevant messages is not unmistakably unlawful.”

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