If courts declare a hate posting illegal, they can require social networks (here Facebook) to remove not only this posting but also all posts with the same meaning, even if a different user posted them. EU law is not opposed to this. The CJEU stated this in the Case Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek v Facebook (C-18/18). Contrary to what is often reported, the CJEU held that this obligation only applies once a national court has declared the content unlawful. It does not follow from the decision that social networks are required to pre-emptively remove content before a court order is issued.  

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While there are legal remedies for victims of hate comments or other legal violations on Facebook and similar platforms, an action against the original infringer often comes too late. It is in the nature of social networks that in an instant content can be “shared” to an unlimited number of accounts. Once out there, the infringer himself is no longer in a position to get rid of his creation. Only the operator of the social network has the technical possibilities to do so. But how far does the obligation of the operator to identify and delete illegal content go?

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