Since I have researched the topic quite a bit, but failed to find satisfying answer that I was looking for, I will ask it here. I think my question opens at least, very interesting debate. In 2014 there was a case, where a man in Slovenia(EU) posted a message regarding some local handball match to his group Facebook wall, which stated "The police intervened only at the end of the match... Typical for these clowns". The man was charged with insulting law enforcement and fined 105 Euros (by law enforcement). The original source is here (translated using google translate): https://goo.gl/Y9kELs

My question: If some statement that is posted on Facebook by non-American citizen, and the statement is subject to, for instance hate-speech laws in country of the person that posted it, isn't the person protected by the first amendment given the fact - that let's assume the post that was made is hosted on American server, which protects free speech under first amendment law. So if we expand this, he made a statement technically speaking in USA.

  • Thank you for your comment YviDe. You are partially right on this, however free speech is also covered by first amendment. Feb 11, 2016 at 19:42
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    This all depends of your country's laws. Some countries can prosecute their citizens for crimes committed abroad, even if they aren't crimes in the country where such actions occurred.
    – Viktor
    Feb 11, 2016 at 20:01
  • @Viktor More importantly, this wouldn't normally be considered a crime committed abroad. If you are physically located in country A, everything you're doing is being done in country A. If you then connect to a server in country B, you're still in country A and subject to country A's laws under the territoriality principle.
    – cpast
    Feb 12, 2016 at 2:35
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    Even if everything else would be true, technically Facebook operates from Ireland for all non-US, non-Canada users.
    – neo
    May 4, 2016 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


If you are charged under the laws of Estonia (or Australia or Thailand or the UK) then the laws of the USA have no relevance whatsoever.

It makes no difference if you are a US citizen, if the alleged crime happened in the USA or was perpetrated against the USA. If nation X has jurisdiction then you are tried under the laws of nation X. That is what sovereignty means.

As to your specific example, Facebook does business in Estonia, therefore they are subject to Estonian law, as a US corporation they are also subject to US law and the law of every other jurisdiction they operate in (see why they need big legal departments?). If a legitimate Estonian warrant was served on them to disclose metadata or anything else then they are legally obliged to do so or be in contempt of court.

Oh, and by the way, the first amendment right to free speech does not give you a right to anonymous free speech.

  • Can we conclude that if the person or citizen of country X is identifiable (real name and surname on Facebook for instance), then the country X can directly prosecute person for this post. If he isn't identifiable and X countries law enforcement agency asks Facebook for data of the account associated with this person, then Facebook will not give away data if this problematic statement isn't considered unlawful of criminal in the USA. Is that correct? This is not meant generally, but only for freedom of speech related cases. Feb 11, 2016 at 21:49
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    This is a separate question so please ask one. However, please remember that the right guaranteed by the US constitution is freedom of speech, not anonymity of speech.
    – Dale M
    Feb 12, 2016 at 1:15
  • "then Facebook will not give away data if this problematic statement isn't considered unlawful of criminal in the USA." I think this bit is not correct. The laws of USA don't apply on the country X, and the company facebook that is registered on the country X will follow X laws, not the american ones. There are different companies named facebook, one on each country, they just share the same website. Apr 15, 2021 at 17:09
  • The answer is correct, but the final sentence about anonymous speech is both irrelevant and incorrect. The First Amendment right to free speech does, of course, include the right to anonymous free speech. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334, 342 (1995) (“[A]n author's decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. ”)
    – bdb484
    Mar 7, 2023 at 17:44

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