A German court has fined Facebook 100,000 euros ($109,000) for refusing to follow an order to adequately inform users about how it was using their intellectual property, a consumer group said on Monday.
News of the ruling followed a visit last week by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in which he mounted a charm offensive in the face of increasing antipathy in Germany towards the world’s biggest social media network prompted by fears for data protection.
The Berlin regional court ruled that Facebook had not adequately changed the wording of a clause on intellectual property in its terms and conditions after a complaint was filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV).
“Facebook is persistently trying to evade consumer laws in Germany and Europe,” VZBV head Klaus Mueller said in a statement. “Companies must implement judicial decisions and can’t simply sit them out.”
A spokeswoman for the Berlin court confirmed the ruling.
A German court originally ruled in March 2012 that Facebook’s terms and conditions did not make clear the extent to which users’ intellectual property – such as photos and videos – could be used by Facebook and licensed to third parties.
The Berlin court concluded that while Facebook had changed the wording of the clause, the key message remained identical to the previous version. “We complied with the order to clarify a single provision in our terms concerning an IP license a while ago. The court felt we did not update our terms quickly enough and has issued a fine, which we will pay,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook faces concerns over a perceived cavalier approach to the privacy of users in Germany, a country reunited after the Cold War in 1990 where memories of espionage were stirred anew by Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations of prying by the state.
During his visit last week, Zuckerberg said he had learned from Germany to include migrants as a class of people that needed to be protected from “hate speech” online.