A court in Italy has ordered Facebook to reopen an account run by the neo-fascist party CasaPound and pay the group €15,000 (£12,500) in legal fees. Judge Stefania Garrisi ruled in favour of an appeal brought by the Mussolini-inspired party after Facebook decided to close its social media accounts in September.
As a spokesman for the social network told the Ansa agency, “people or organisations that spread hatred towards others for who they are will not have a place on Facebook and Instagram. The accounts we have withdrawn today violate this policy and will never be present on Facebook or Instagram.”
However, the civil court in Rome ruled that Facebook must immediately reopen their accounts saying that their closure “goes against the right to pluralism and seriously eliminates or limits the possibility of the association to be in the Italian political debate and to express its political messages.”
The court also ruled that the company must pay 15,000 euros for the legal costs incurred and compensation of 800 euros for each day the accounts remain closed.
“The judges have ordered Facebook to reopen our pages, citing the constitution and saying that CasaPound has the right to exist and communicate on social networks,” CasaPound leader Simone Di Stefano said on Twitter. Responding to the ruling Facebook said that it examining the court’s decision carefully.
CasaPound was founded in the late 1990s as a pro-Mussolini drinking club. Named after the 20th-century American poet Ezra Pound, who was known for his fascist sympathies and antisemitism, it claims to support a democratic variant of fascism but has been accused of encouraging violence and racism. In November two former militants were convicted of gang-raping a woman in Viterbo, in the Lazio region.