Joon Ian Wong | Quartz | March 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Facebook Is Making Life Absurdly Difficult in German Court

Eric Risberg/AP File Photo

Facebook is under fire in Germany. It’s facing lawsuits from German users and the German government is threatening it with hefty fines if it doesn’t deal with fake news and hate speech. The lawsuits reveal the sometimes absurd difficulties faced by German lawyers in getting Facebook to a courtroom, Bloomberg reports.

In one case in Berlin, a student’s account was closed without explanation, prompting legal action from the student. But Facebook told the court that it couldn’t understand the complaint since it was written in German. It required a €500 ($530) English translation to proceed, which the student’s lawyer said was a “hardly credible” request, given the millions of users it serves in Germany using German-language terms of service.

Another case, famous for involving a refugee, a selfie, and Angela Merkel, the court had difficulty getting the complaint seen by Facebook at all. The court had to serve papers to Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, in order to proceed with the case. But the court never got a response. The judge presiding over the case said: “I’m not sure we would have been able to make service in Ireland happen this year at all.” The case proceeded after Facebook’s law firm in Hamburg got in touch with the court in Würzburg, Bavaria, after seeing widespread media coverage of the case.

Facebook doesn’t report user numbers for Germany, although one Bloomberg estimate put it at 28 million users in 2016. Web traffic ranker SimilarWeb puts Facebook as the third most popular website in Germany, behind Google and YouTube.

Facebook could make a German address available to receive court papers, the lawyer representing the plaintiff in the selfie case said. That would certainly make it easier for Facebook to respond to its users in Germany. Quartz has asked Facebook if it plans to make a German address available for court correspondence.


Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.