Parents denied access to dead daughter’s Facebook account


A German court has ruled that the parents of a dead teenage girl have no right to access their daughter’s Facebook account.

The 15-year-old was killed by a train in 2012 and her parents were trying to establish if she had committed suicide.

The parents had sought access to their daughter’s chat messages and posts in order to find out whether she had been bullied.

But Facebook argued that opening up the account would compromise the privacy of the girl’s contacts.

A first court in Berlin had ruled in favour of the family in 2015 – saying that the family should inherit their daughter’s account.

The first judge believed it was no different from a family inheriting letters and diaries, which ‘can be inherited regardless of their content’.

But Berlin’s court of appeal overturned the ruling this week, arguing it would compromise the girl’s still-living contacts’ right to privacy.

The girl’s mother is reported to have had access to her daughter’s account before she died, but Facebook froze the page once it was notified about the girl’s death, thus restricting anyone from signing in.

The parents may yet launch a further appeal against the verdict.

Facebook has recently faced increased scrutiny in Germany, especially over its handling of hate speech and fake news on the platform.

The company earlier this year announced the introduction of new tools in Germany to combat fabricated stories.

Meanwhile, German officials last month approved plans to levy heavy fines on social media firms if they fail to remove inappropriate comments and content quickly.

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