Legal updates

An editor of a Facebook page is not necessarily liable for offensive comments that were posted to the page

March 3, 2021

The chairman of the Maccabi Sha'arim Football Association contended that the editors of the association's Facebook page are liable to him because they did not prevent the posting of defamatory comments about him on the Facebook page, even if such were later removed.
The Court held that the editors are not liable for defamation because they have no control over the content posted on the page. Israeli law defines defamation as a publication that may humiliate a person, harm his profession, and demean him, including due to his race, origin and the like. Beyond the responsibility of the publisher, the law also imposes a responsibility on the editor of the media in the press, on radio broadcasts and on television. Due to changes in the way the world communicates, the law should also be applied, respectively, to publications on the Internet, including publications on Facebook. The imposition of liability is made while distinguishing between types of publications and different types of functionaries, including the degree of control on the website. In addition, it shall be examined whether the editor removed the defamatory content at the request of the demeaned person. Here, the degree of control of the page that the editors had prior to the publication was minimal and the content was subsequently removed at the request of the chairmen. Hence, their conduct does not constitute defamation.