Facebook Penalized for Offensive Photo of French Bishop

Catholics Invited to Reflect on Internet Presence

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PARIS, APRIL 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The social networking Web site Facebook was recently penalized for allowing the posting of an offensive photo of a French bishop who is not even a member.

«Since last February 23, Bishop Hervé Giraud, bishop of Soissons, Laon and Saint-Quentin, has been seeing his photograph on Facebook together with indecent words,» reported the French episcopal conference on its Web site.
The conference’s article, publicized Thursday, noted, «He is not a member of this social network.»

It added that the bishop reported this «illicit content,» but the photo was not removed.

Thus, the prelate brought his case to the High Court of Appeals in Paris in early March. The trial was held on April 13.

Bishop Giraud said that at the trial, «an attempt was being made to defend the freedom of expression against excesses that weaken it.»
He clarified that «this liberty must be coupled with fraternity of expression, regardless of differences of ideas.»
The bishops’ conference reported that the Court of Appeals ordered the removal of the photograph and the insulting comments, and gave a sentence to the Facebook France enterprise.
Now the sentence, including a monetary fine must be fulfilled, and the enterprise has 15 days to appeal the court decision.

«Know that I continue my ordinary ministry with all simplicity in peace,» said Bishop Giraud. «The number of written and oral expressions of support I received attest that a real fraternity is possible in this world.»
Echoing these words, Monsignor Bernard Podvin, the conference spokesman, issued an appeal that the Internet be used for upright objectives.
«May this case enable each one of us to discern, from start to finish, what is painful and what is instructive,» he said.
The conference noted that all Catholics are invited, on the occasion of the next World Day of Communications, which will take place on May 16, to give witness and to reflect on their presence in the Internet.
In his message published for this occasion, Benedict XVI also invites clergy, in this Year for Priests, to place themselves on the «digital continent.»

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