Be careful what you write on Social Media in Spain

Be careful what you write on social media in Spain

BE AWARE Spain has very strict Slander and defamation of character laws (article 205 and 208 of the Spanish Criminal code), so before posting about a venue/person, think carefully or you could end up with a very large fine, so be careful what you write on social media in Spain

November 30th 2022 - Laws regarding libel and slander apply in Spain, even to comments made on social media. A man has been fined 3000€ in a court, after not deleting comments made by third persons on one of his posts on his Facebook page. The judge ruled that when somebody puts a post-up, they are liable for all comments made by other people on that same post. And it that original posters responsibility to delete/block/ remove any that would cause libel or slander to be committed.

November 2022 - A young man from Petrer (Alicante province) is facing a judge after writing on his Facebook page that he would like to set fire to the offices of a certain local political party. The comments were only on his page a few hours and were written three years ago. Despite his apology and the withdrawal of his comments within hours, the court in Alicante is asking a jail sentence of 15 months, plus a fine of 1,500€.  A good example of how even things written on social media, have to comply with the laws in Spain. 

February 2022 - Slander against a person using social media is treated quite seriously in Spain, as a young man in Palma Mallorca has just found out. Four police officers carried out a search of a property where an illegal gathering was taking place, and the young man filmed what was going on, putting the footage on a social media platform claiming they were acting illegally. The officers were actually just carrying out their duty, and a court yesterday fined the young man 12,000 euros for a compensation payment to the officers....3,000 euros to each officer for slander against them and their "injured honour".

2021 - Prison for a Valencian for posting messages against Islam on Facebook

A man who posted on his Facebook page messages against Islam and people of gypsy ethnicity or black skin has been sentenced to one year in prison for hate crimes after the prosecutor for these crimes in Valencia and his lawyer have reached an agreement that sets that penalty.

The convicted person spread on Facebook ideas of "extermination" and persecution for religious reasons for Muslim people. The Penal Code provides a prison sentence of one to four years for publicly promoting discrimination or violence against a group of people for racist, anti-Semitic or other reasons related to ideology or religion.

The Valencia Court has accepted the suspension of the prisoner's imprisonment as long as he does not re-offend and complies with the rest of the prohibitions imposed such as the prohibition to act on Facebook for five years. Read the full story in Spanish HERE

11th April 2019 - A British woman was arrested in Dubai for branding her ex-husband's new wife a 'horse' on Facebook three years ago while living in England, she avoided jail but received a £600 fine.  Although not in Spain this once again reiterates the need for caution about what you write on social media.

Reported on 26th October 2018 in the Spanish El Mundo Newspaper 

Be careful what you write on social media in Spain

A woman has been sentenced to pay 3,650€ for criticising being charged a piece of bread

The Court number 1 at Colmenar Town Hall (in the province of Malaga) has issued a sentence that rules a woman to pay 3,650€ for posting a message on Facebook in which she described a cafeteria owner as " a starving ratwhen they charged her 0.25 cents for a slice of bread she ordered for their baby.

Edificio del Ayuntamiento de Colmenar Viejo 

The owner reported the comment in which she explained that they had gone to breakfast at a local Cafeteria and ordered a slice of bread for her daughter of 13 months, and "they looked at me as if I owed them my life for asking for a crust of bread for a baby. "

When questioned, the owner of the establishment said that "they had a new customer," in reference to the child, and charged her for the "bit" of bread-

The woman added, "They must be starved to have that attitude" and attempted "to lose them a few customers".

Subsequently, the owner stated that that message constituted an illegitimate interference with her reputation, and therefore asked the woman to retract the post.  In response, the baby's mother modified the original comment and eliminated the words "rats" and "starved".

However, she added that she had erased those words "because they were not really necessary" as the actions define themselves" because " not even a starving person would deny a piece of bread to a baby".

After the complaint, the defendant argued in writing that her statements were not insulting or violating the honour of the affected, because "there had been no desire to undermine the dignity" of anyone and claimed that the right to freedom of expression.

However, finally the judge has decided that there was damage to the owner of the premises and forces the defendant to compensate the owner of the premises with 3,650 euros.

How to make a Denuncia

Be careful what you write on social media in Spain

Defamation remains a criminal offence in Spain.

The Spanish Criminal Code includes two general types of offences against honour: slander (Art. 205) and defamation (Art. 208).

Slander (Criminal Code Art. 205; calumnia): Defined as “accusing another person of a felony while knowing it is false or recklessly disregarding the truth”. It is generally punished with a fine of six to 12 months. However, when committed by means of the media (print and broadcasting) or other “similarly effective means”, it is punished with a fine of 12 to 24 months or imprisonment for up to two years.

Defamation (Criminal Code Art. 208; injuria): Defined as any accusation, expression, or action that “harms the dignity of another person, detracting from his reputation or attacking his self-esteem”. Defamation is only considered a crime if “by its nature, effect, or circumstances is considered serious by the public at large”. In the case of an assertion of fact, the offender must also know the statement to be false or have acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Defamation is generally punished with a fine of three to seven months. However, if the defamation is committed through the media, the potential punishment increases to a fine of six to 14 months.

In certain cases (e.g., if defamation was committed for payment), the offender may be barred from certain rights, such as holding public office or practicing a particular profession (Art. 213, in accordance with Arts. 42-45) for six months to two years.

Finally, Art. 620 of the Criminal Code provides that defamatory statements that do not otherwise constitute a felony are considered a misdemeanour (falta) and punishable by a fine of 10 to 20 days.

Art. 578 of the Spanish Criminal Code prohibits “acts that involve discredit, disdain or humiliation of the victims of terrorist offences or their relatives”. The penalty is imprisonment from one to two years and a fine of 12 to 18 months. Art. 578(2) stipulates that penalties shall be on the higher end of the spectrum if the act is committed through the media or the Internet.


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