A German court ruled on Thursday in a landmark decision that heirs in Germany can access their deceased relatives’ Facebook accounts, saying that social media accounts can be inherited.
The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, ruled that a mother had the right to access her daughter’s Facebook account. Facebook had locked the account and turned it into a “memorial” page, where user data stored on Facebook’s servers is blocked.
“Today’s verdict also affects other social media accounts, not just Facebook but Instagram and so on. So it’s a verdict with very far-reaching consequences,” said a federal court spokeswoman.
After a train hit and killed a 15 year-old German girl in 2012, her mother desperately wanted to know if she had committed suicide or if it was an accident. By checking her daughter’s Facebook account, the mother believed she could find an answer to the mystery. (RELATED: Facebook Censored A Post With The Declaration Of Independence Text. Now Says Sorry.)
“While we respectfully disagree with today’s decision … the lengthy process shows how complex the issue under discussion is,” a Facebook spokesman said, Reuters reported.
Facebook and the mother had battled back and forth in lower courts, both sides won victories and both sides appealed those rulings. Facebook won a previous ruling in May 2017, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
In a similar situation, a deceased British citizen’s Facebook account was deleted by the company. A U.K. judge order the company disclose who told the company to delete the account, TheDCNF reported in mid-June.
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