Germans to un-Like Facebook’s “Like” button

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / AFP
A government official in Germany has ordered websites in his state to stop using Facebook's "like" button, claiming it violates privacy law.

­The privacy commissioner for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weichert, claimed that an analysis by his office shows that Facebook’s popular “Like” buttons transfers data to Facebook's servers in the US.

"Whoever visits or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years," Weichert said in the statement issued on Friday.

That violates German and European Union data-protection laws, he claimed.

In his report, he urged people not to create accounts on Facebook and not to push the “Like” button or other plug-ins like it.

Weichert ordered website owners in his state to remove their "Like" buttons. Those who do not follow the order may face a fine of up to $72,000.

Facebook’s representatives completely denied the German official’s claims.

"We firmly reject any assertion that Facebook is not compliant with EU data-protection standards," said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

Meanwhile, the announcement surprised the state government. Schleswig-Holstein State Secretary Arne Wulff said that “political communication these days also takes place on the internet.” She stated that she will discuss the case with other federal states.

Facebook’s “Like” button allows users to quickly share links on their page without ever leaving the original site.