Anas Modamani couldn’t believe his luck in August 2015 when German chancellor, Angela Merkel made a brief visit to the Berlin shelter where Modamani, a refugee from Syria, happened to be living.
Modamani was able to snap a quick selfie with the German chancellor who has a lot of reservations about refugees. The selfie went viral and was even featured on the front pages of national newspapers and talked about on the nightly news because it captured the reserved German leader in a rare unscripted moment.
But the photo was soon used for negative purposes, hijacked by fake news producers who repeatedly used Modamani’s name and likeness in social media posts about terrorism.
“For the first five months, I thought it was a good luck charm,” Modamani said. “But now I think it’s bad luck.”
Modamani is now seeking an injunction in a German court that would require Facebook (FB, Tech30) to stop the selfie from being used in fake news posts.
He is also asking for all existing fake news posts using the image to be deleted, according to his lawyer. The case will be heard starting Monday in Germany.
In a statement, Facebook said: “We are committed to meeting our obligations under German law in relation to content which is shared by people on our platform. We have already quickly disabled access to content that has been accurately reported to us by Modamani’s legal representatives, so we do not believe that legal action here is necessary or that it is the most effective way to resolve the situation.”