Be careful when liking posts on Facebook and co.

According to a federal court decision, you can make yourself liable to prosecution if you mark comments / posts on social media channels with “Like.”

The answer in detail

Be careful when liking posts on Facebook and co.

Due to a recent federal court ruling, it’s important to give yourself a few moments of thought before you mark a post with “Like” on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. Anyone who shares a defamatory post on Facebook or marks it with a “Like” can also be guilty of what is known as an offense against personal honor.

What exactly does this mean for you in relation to “likes” on Facebook and co.?

Will you make yourself liable to prosecution if you give a “Like” to the comments of your circle of friends on social media channels? Not in every case. Caution is advised with articles and posts that are offensive. If you like such a post, i.e. mark it with “Like”, and if you share or repost it, you can make yourself liable to prosecution according to the new federal court decision. Although you are not the person who is committing the crime of offense against personal honor, you may make yourself guilty of such an offense by sharing or reposting the post. In particular, this could be the case if your profile, and thus your activity, can be viewed by more than just your friends, subscribers, and followers. 

We recommend: Like or share posts from third parties in social media only after you have made sure that these do not contain any defamatory statements.

What is considered to be an offense against personal honor?

  • Defamation For example: “He cheated on his wife!” (even if it’s true). See Art. 173 para. 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code: Any person who in addressing a third party, makes an accusation against or casts suspicion on another of dishonorable conduct or of other conduct that shall be liable to damage another’s reputation, any person who disseminates such accusations or suspicions, shall be liable on complaint to a monetary penalty. 
  • Willful defamation: For example: “He stole from his grandmother!” (knowing that this isn’t true). See Art. 174 para. 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code: A person in addressing a third party, and knowing his allegations to be untrue, makes an accusation against or casts suspicion on another of dishonorable conduct, or of other conduct that shall be liable to damage another’s reputation, any person who disseminates such accusations or suspicions, knowing them to be untrue, shall be liable on complaint to a custodial sentence not exceeding three years or to a monetary penalty. 
  • Insult: For example: “He is such an asshole!” See Art. 177 para. 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code: Any person who attacks the honor of another verbally, in writing, in pictures, through gestures or through acts of aggression shall be liable on complaint to a monetary penalty not exceeding 90 daily penalty units.