Sweden: Facebook group admin fined for comments someone else made in his group

This landmark case had a crazy outcome.


It used to be either a lucrative or a pointless activity, as the case may have been – but now, administering a Facebook group seems to be turning into a potentially downright dangerous business.

At least in Europe, that is – this week getting hit by ever more diverse talk of hate speech and Facebook, in various combinations thereof.

Thus Facebook just scored “a first” in an apparent deal with France to hand over personal data of suspected hate speech offenders – moving to equalize the crime with that of terrorism on this continent.

And now over in Sweden, the global social media giant is once again just a platform and a “public square” instead of a publisher, as a man in fined just over $2,000 in “a landmark case.”

The man is Patrik Markstrom, an administrator of a Facebook group called Stand Up For Sweden, The Local writes.

The group itself takes its name from another set up my Markstrom in 2017 in defense of Swedish police officer Peter Springare – who thought he was free to reveal on Facebook that “most of his cases involved foreign-born criminals.”

But that was a bad idea, as it caused “controversy,” the report said. The officer himself has since distanced himself from the group that changed its name and then quickly grew to over 220,000 members.

Now, Markstrom's crime was apparently not spotting controversial comments on one of the posts in the group fast enough to remove them fast enough. At least that's what Markstrom told the court.

But the court had none of that and declared him guilty of not doing away with the “grossly insulting” comments left by other members of the group, the Swedish website said.

More specifically, the the court said that Markstrom “must have seen six of these comments himself and actively intended not to remove them.” The Local, meanwhile, who are reporting they saw the verdict, chose not to reveal how exactly the court knew the defendant had “seen the comments.”

But the case is likely to be appealed as the legislation the ruling is based on was deigned to deal with bulletin boards – a kind of “public square” that's a little older than Facebook.

But – hence the “legal precedent” that the ruling had reportedly set when the judge decided to base their decision on the very same obsolete law.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]