In Delfi AS v Estonia (2013 ECtHR) a post on a news portal online garnered hateful and defamatory comments from an anonymous user. Delfi had failed to take down the comments in a reasonable amount of time. The comments were left on the site for six weeks before they were taken down. While the Court did not find Delfi to be entirely negligent, it found Delfi’s action to be inadequate. The fact that the site allowed anonymous comments should have been enough reason for Delfi to put in place more stringent measures.
Too much freedom of expression in today’s society?
With the rise of the Internet and countless social media platforms, there may be a risk that there is too much freedom of expression. The Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland represents Ireland’s internet service providers (e.g. Sky, Vodafone, Eir) which are selfregulatory and are overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality. Social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok have their own policies and community standards in relation to preventing the incitement of hate, terrorism and bullying. However, such content could be posted publicly online for hours before it is taken down, meaning hundreds if not thousands could have already seen it and reposted it, some of them, children. Even if the original post is taken down, it may still resurface in obscure sites in the “dark web”. Essentially, once content has been published online, it remains on the Internet indefinitely, making it more harmful than traditional printed or broadcast media.