Be careful when liking posts on Facebook and co.

According to a federal court decision, you can make yourself liable to prosecution if you like defamatory posts on social media channels.

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” or share a post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media channels. Anyone who “likes” a defamatory post on Facebook can also be guilty of what is known as an offense against personal honor.

What 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. You should be careful with posts that are defamatory. If you like such a post 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, however, under certain circumstances make yourself guilty of such an offense by sharing or reposting the post. This is the case, for example, if your profile is public – and more than only friends, subscribers, and followers can see your activity. 

We recommend: Like or share posts from others 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 their 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.