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User comments on Ebay: Why factual is not necessarily human

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The ever-valid imperative for overcoming conflicts can be found thousands of times in the advice literature with the most banal tips on how to help yourself, which fills both the vastness of the Internet and the bookshelves to a considerable extent: stay objective! Being objective means not letting your anger get the better of you, listening more than talking; keep the tone subdued, discuss content to the point and not to the person; Respect for everyone and everything and always discuss everything in the exact context in which it belongs.

In other words, it’s the opposite of what’s happening in the digital comment columns. It’s the opposite of what’s shown on talk shows. And often enough it is the opposite of what is coming out of the parliaments of the republic. It is not without reason that objectivity is not the first principle that one encounters in classical rhetoric. Being factual can get boring. Authorities should be factual – but the citizens?

The ratings submitted by users must be factual and may not contain any abusive criticism.

Excerpt from the Ebay terms and conditions

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The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has now dealt with a corresponding lawsuit. The Internet sales platform Ebay asked a customer to remain objective. He has literally committed himself to this. Because in the general terms and conditions (GTC) of the network department store, i.e. what used to be called small print, it is clear: “The ratings submitted by users must be factual and may not contain any abusive criticism.”

According to the judges, the buyer knew what he was going to pay for what

The Ebay buyer bought four joint bolt clamps – a special type of hose clamp – for around EUR 19 gross, including just under EUR 5 for shipping. The latter must have pained him. He commented on his purchase in the evaluation profile of the platform: “Good goods, exorbitant shipping costs!!”. Ebay asked for the listing to be removed. The district court agreed with the company. The customer had become unobjective, although he himself had agreed to the Ebay terms and conditions. He also knew what he was going to pay for what.

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe finally rejected Ebay’s action for deletion.
© dpa / Uli Deck
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The BGH has now ruled in favor of the customer. The usury accusation may remain in the network world (Az.: VIII ZR 319/20). “Abusive criticism”, a kind of defamation, it was not anyway. And if Ebay thinks it’s not factual, the sales house should have defined more precisely in its terms and conditions what it means by factual.

The verdict brings the rules of the network providers back to the ground of freedom of expression

It is understandable that Ebay took the dispute over the bells to the extreme. It’s about the self-imposed rules for good manners, a topic that is given top priority on other Internet platforms under the keyword “hate and hate speech”. But in Internet salesrooms, where little else is at stake than prices, to speak of usury means nothing other than: It’s too expensive for me. An assessment that, in view of inflation, is likely to become inflationary anyway. The BGH judgment brings the tone of voice regulations of the network providers back to the ground of freedom of expression. Of course, the clamp buyer exaggerated. But if every exaggeration were inadmissible, what would become of us? In particular: from us journalists?

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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