Culture, Religion, and the New Geographies of Law: Troubling Takedowns in ‘Ewa Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland Ltd’

From the right to information to the right to privacy, from freedom of expression to protection from defamation, online conflicts are troubling private entities and jurists alike, particularly as the ever-increasing spread of global communications changes the meaning and impact of territories and jurisdiction. Beneath the hubbub runs a babbling brook of values, as pervasive and persistent as they are hidden. Religiously rooted conceptions permeate our legal decisions even as technological approaches are proposed as solutions. In this vein, a recent legal decision of the CJEU ordering Facebook to remove posts adjudicated as defamatory has mostly been analyzed in terms of content filtering technology. The essay argues, however, that true import of the case lies in the largely unattended cultural motors that are silently and perhaps inadvertently determining social paths. These religious and cultural values extend tendrils across global platforms through blunt decisions that lack the nuance to address potential impacts. At risk is a detachment between law and common sense in which fundamental human rights are not only unprotected, but not even acknowledged. Changing this state of affairs requires a more sophisticated cultural awareness that leverages the semiotic potential of legal instruments to deliver interculturally aware solutions.

Comments are closed.