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Facebook agrees to meet German government on removing racist content

Fri 28 Aug 2015

Heiko Maas Minister of Justice with Facebook logo

Facebook has this week agreed to meet with Germany’s ministry of justice to discuss ways to rid the social media site of widespread racial hatred following a surge in user complaints.

In a letter penned by Justice Minister Heiko Maas, Facebook’s European executives were invited to meet with the government department on the 14th September to talk about how the internet giant can improve ‘effectiveness and transparency’ in tackling racist posts.

On Thursday Facebook Germany accepted the invitation via email, agreeing to meet Maas and admitting that it ‘takes his concerns very seriously.’

‘We are very interested in an exchange of views with Minister Maas about what society, companies and politicians can do together against xenophobia spreading in Germany,’ the email read.

A spokesperson for the social network added: “[Facebook] works hard every day to protect people on Facebook against abuse, hate speech and bullying […] Racism has no place on Facebook.”

According to Maas user complaints about racist content were often rebutted by Facebook, claiming that the post does not violate its community standards. He suggested that this oversight even occurred in ‘obvious cases.’

German users also accuse the site of focussing its efforts on cutting down pornography and nude content, while not paying enough attention to hate-mongering and xenophobia.

Maas continued to write that Facebook was required by law to remove posts which violated German laws against inciting racial hatred.

Germany is facing an upsurge in racial commentary online, with record numbers of asylum-seekers and a strong resistance from the far right fuelling the scorn. Last month German actor Til Schweiger posted an appeal for an “uprising of decent people” against racism and attacks on refugees – it received over five million views in 48 hours and a backlash of hateful slur.

In March Facebook revealed an update of its global community standards, promising not to allow its site to be used as a platform for hate speech or terrorism.


Facebook Germany legal
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