A Swiss man who 'liked' several Facebook posts that included accusations that a man was racist and anti-Semitic has been convicted of defamation.
In the landmark ruling, the unnamed 45-year-old Zurich man was found guilty after he 'liked' a series of posts in a discussion about a vegan street festival called Veganmania Schweiz in 2015.
The social media posts were accusing the president of the animal rights association Vereins gegen Tierfabriken, Erwin Kessler, of racism and anti-Semitism as part of discussions about which animal welfare groups should be allowed to take part in the festival.
Although the posts were 'liked' by a number of people, Kessler brought a case against the defendant, arguing that by 'liking' the posts, it allowed their content to be seen by a larger number of people.
Prosecutors said that the defendant had acted with intent to harm without justifiable cause and no actual proof that the statements were true or that he had "serious reasons" to believe them to be true.
Judge Catherine Gerwig said during the trial on Monday (29 May) that by 'liking' the offensive posts the defendant was "spreading a value judgement" about the victim.
The Swiss daily newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported that the defendant's 'likes' were associated with positive feelings meaning, he backed the inference created by the posts.
The newspaper reported that Kessler, in 1998, was convicted of racial discrimination after efforts attempting to prevent a ban on shechita, a Jewish religious method of slaughtering animals for food in order to produce kosher meat.
But Zurich District Court ruled that he cannot be accused of racism almost 20 years later without contemporaneous proof of his racism.
It was also reported that other defendants have also since been convicted of defaming Kessler in the Swiss cities of Zurich, Lucerne and Bern. The unnamed defendant was handed a fine.