A Syrian refugee whose selfie of himself with German Chancellor Angela Merkel became one of the iconic images of Germany's acceptance of asylum seekers is to sue Facebook after being smeared as a terrorist in fake news reports.
A lawyer for refugee Anas Modamani will request a German court issues an order, compelling Facebook to stop fake news reports containing false Modamani's image being spread of the social media platform, and to remove all existing posts.
It is believed to be the first time a person has taken a company to court over their depiction in fake news reports, reports Deutsche Welle.
Modamani's 2015 selfie with the German leader in a Berlin refugee shelter quickly became iconic, with Merkel lauded by many for providing asylum to millions fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East.
"For the first five months, I thought it was a good luck charm," Modamani told CNN of the picture. "But now I think it's bad luck."
Modamani claims that there have since been multiple attempts to smear him as an extremist on social media.
Whenever there is a refugee-related crime "the crimes are blamed on him [Modamani]," argues Modamani's lawyer, Chan-jo Jun, adding that his client is now "fighting back."
Jun said that a fake news report claiming that Modamani was part of a group of men who tried to set fire to a homeless man outside a Berlin train station in December had been shared 500 times.
Other reports falsely alleged that Modamani was part of the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) cell responsible for the Brussels terror attacks, was involved in the Ansbach terror attack, and the Berlin attack in December.
Despite Modamani filing numerous complaints to Facebook calling for the fake reports to be removed, he was told they did not violate community standards so would remain.
Research has found that far-right groups in Germany use social media sites to spread hate speech against migrants, and in December a key party ally of Merkel warned Facebook it could be fined for failing to combat racism on its platform. German intelligence has also warned that fake news reports could be used to undermine forthcoming German elections.
Jun said his client is seeking €250,000 (£215,624, $264,000) in damages, and for Facebook to comply with German hate speech laws.
In a statement, Facebook said: "We are committed to meeting our obligations under German law in relation to content which is shared by people on our platform. We have already quickly disabled access to content that has been accurately reported to us by Modamani's legal representatives, so we do not believe that legal action here is necessary or that it is the most effective way to resolve the situation."