Facebook won dismissal of a lawsuit involving a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a Syrian refugee that raised questions about the social network’s duty to remove racist comments by its users.
A German court in the city of Wuerzburg rejected a bid by the refugee to force the company to block any post featuring the picture or repeating offensive statements that often accompanied the photograph. The judges said that the country’s media law doesn’t apply to Internet platforms such as Facebook and that lawmakers would need to change the rules to give Anas Modamani, 19, the relief he sought.
The picture of Modamani and Merkel has become an emblem of the chancellor’s refugee policies. Modamani’s attorney had told the court it was posted by numerous users who added libelous statements about his client, including falsely alleging he took part in terrorist attacks or was responsible for the attempted murder of a homeless person.
“Facebook didn’t adopt the statements and the postings as its own opinion,” Presiding Judge Volkmar Seipel said after delivering the ruling. “It’s not Facebook that’s claiming these things when users are uploading the picture.”
— Bloomberg News
Events featuring Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and even Harry Potter are now part of a federal regulator’s lawsuit accusing two New York men of running a Ponzi scheme centered on the resale of tickets to events such as the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
In an amended civil complaint filed Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Joseph Meli, 42, and Matthew Harriton, 52, raised more than $97 million from at least 138 investors in 17 states as part of a scam.
That is up from $81 million raised from at least 125 investors when the alleged fraud was made public in January.
A lawyer for Meli did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Daniel Horwitz, an attorney for Harriton, said, “We believe the evidence will show that Matt Harriton was a victim.”
The SEC said Meli and Harriton typically told investors to expect 10 percent returns plus a stake in profits from bulk purchases and resales of tickets to events such as “Hamilton” and a concert by the singer Adele.
Its amended complaint added events including October’s Desert Trip festival in California featuring Dylan, McCartney and the Stones; and concerts for bands Metallica and Nine Inch Nails.
The SEC said Meli and Harriton used about $59 million they raised to repay investors, while other sums were spent on casino gambling, jewelry, private school tuition and other items.
● Consumers pulled back on credit card debt in January. Total borrowing rose $8.8 billion in January compared to an increase of $14.8 billion in December, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. It was the smallest monthly gain since borrowing only went up $7.6 billion in July 2012. Borrowing for auto loans and student loans rose $12.6 billion in January, slightly more than in December.
●A new streaming service aimed at kids will have episodes of classic cartoons such as “Scooby Doo,” “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” as well as original series. Time Warner’s Boomerang service will initially work only on Apple and Android phones and tablets and computers. The cost is $5 a month. It will eventually be available for TVs through streaming gadgets such as Apple TV and Roku. The service launches in a few months.
● Airbnb on Tuesday invited some of the owners of properties listed on its service to attend executive board meetings and offered them more direct contact with its chief executive. In an event at the short-term rental company’s San Francisco headquarters attended by dozens of Airbnb hosts from around the world, chief executive Brian Chesky announced that he will have more direct communication with hosts through emails and quarterly Facebook Live events. He said Airbnb will create an advisory board made up of hosts and will invite certain hosts to one board meeting a year. Airbnb will also expand the number of what it calls “host clubs” to 1,000 from 114 by the end of 2018, Chesky said.
● Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said in a blog post Tuesday that the ride-hailing company is seeking a chief operating officer, “a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey.” The post comes more than a week after Kalanick said that he “must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up,” after a video showed him arguing with a Uber driver over rates. Uber is also investigating allegations of sexual harassment at the company.
● Mark Zuckerberg is headed back to Harvard, but this time he’ll be giving the commencement speech. The university announced Tuesday that the Facebook chief executive and Harvard dropout was chosen to address students at a May 25 graduation ceremony. Harvard president Drew Faust said Zuckerberg “has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide” and that she’s glad to welcome him back. Zuckerberg started as an undergraduate at Harvard in 2002 but left after his sophomore year to pursue his company, which later became Facebook.
— From news services
● 8:15 a.m.: Payroll processor ADP releases its private-sector hiring report for February.
● 8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases fourth-quarter productivity data.