Verdict: Even a “Like” can be punishable in social networks

Even a “like” in social networks can be punishable and lead to a house search. That’s what a district court said. The reasoning.

The district court of Memmingen passed a judgment (of August 5th, 2022, 6 Qs 146/22) that all users of social networks should read carefully: Even a “like” can be punishable. Ehssan Khazaeli, the convict’s lawyer, says: “After that, simply liking someone else’s post on Facebook can be a criminal offense and lead to a search of your home.” The prerequisite is that the liked post contains criminal content.

It’s all about this

A Facebook user had written in relation to the two police officers murdered near Kusel on January 31, 2022: “Not a single second of silence for these creatures”. The accused, defended by lawyer Khazaeli, gave this irreverent post a like. As a result, the Meiningen public prosecutor’s office requested that the apartment, the car and the person who had liked the post be searched, as Khazaeli writes on his blog.

The public prosecutor’s office held that the “like” would fulfill the elements of disparaging the memory of the deceased under Section 189 StGB and rewarding and approving criminal offenses under Section 140 StGB. Evidence such as smartphones or storage media should be secured during the search. Online storage should also be searched. The responsible investigating judge of the district court in Meiningen issued the requested search warrant and this was carried out.

The district court’s reasoning

Khazaeli lodged a complaint on behalf of the accused, but the district court has now confirmed the procedure. It justifies its decision by saying that the accused made the foreign statement his own with his “like”. The District Court stated: ”

From the context of the post, when viewed objectively, it can be seen that someone who wants to deny the victims of a homicide within the meaning of Section 126 (1) no approves the crime of murder depicted there in 2 cases. Anyone who denies the person who died as a result of a crime any recognition or honor in the manner described approves of the crime itself. Viewed realistically, consenting to denying the victims a minimum of human dignity without further ado cannot be understood other than approval of the central event, to which alone commemoration refers.

The court continues: ”

A further requirement is that the statement is capable of disturbing the public peace. The reference to the peace protection clause makes it possible to restrictively interpret the broad abstract endangerment offence. In view of the uncontrolled dissemination of the approval via the medium of Facebook, this is – as the course of the local investigation itself shows – quite obviously the case.

This is how it goes

Khazaeli now wants to lodge a constitutional complaint against both decisions. This should basically clarify the question of “whether mere liking on social media can be punishable and can lead to house searches”.

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