Facebook, Google, and Twitter agree to halt hate speech in Germany

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook, Google, Twitter Commit To Hate Speech Action In Germany.

Tech giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter all agreed recently to delete hate speech posted on their networks from Germany, according to government officials. The German government has been applying pressure on Facebook and others to slow the escalation of racist comments made on social network sites, some illegal under German law, as more than 1 million refugees have flooded into the country in 2015, according to Reuters. Germany began an investigation into Facebook’s policies on hate speech in November, with one politician accusing the company of immediately acting to delete nudity from its pages, but letting xenophobic remarks to remain, according to the BBC.

The influx of migrants to Germany, which has agreed to take the largest number of refugees, has led to a rise in racist sentiments expressed via web platforms such as Facebook. The country is now on pace to take in one million asylum-seekers this year and has been under a great deal of pressure to tackle the backlash from the far right. Martin Ott, Facebook’s managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe based in Hamburg, may be held responsible for the social platform’s failure to remove hate speech, a spokeswoman for the prosecution said last month.

Reuters quotes German Justice Minister Heiko Maas saying that “criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people” cross the boundaries of free speech and that such content “has to be deleted from the net”. The news, issued by the German Justice Ministry, is light on details: Will Google search be wiped of results that include hate speech—or would the policy only apply to user-posted content on Google+?

A leading German newspaper recently took out a two-page ad criticizing a burst of comments appearing on social media sites and targeting immigrants with bigoted tirades from some of Facebook’s 27 million German users. Facebook has a partnership with a group called FSM, which monitors multimedia service providers on a voluntary basis, and has said it would encourage its users to push back against racism. Vandals attacked its offices in the northern city of Hamburg at the weekend, damaging the entrance to the building and spraying “Facebook dislike” on a wall. The issue of hate speech on the Internet has come to center stage in light of the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, as well as the ensuing debates about immigration, refugees, and civil rights. A recent call by presidential hopeful Donald Trump to ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S. has further fueled the debate, with many labeling the billionaire’s remarks hate speech.

In a recent test of Facebook’s policy, Fast Company uncovered a double standard: While test posts containing the same language as Trump’s infamous speech were removed when flagged, the candidate’s original statement has remained on the social network. We complete the review of the vast majority of reports within 24 hours.” A Google spokesperson added: “We’re committed to working with Governments on this issue and work to review the majority of flagged content within 24 hours.

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