Facebook teams up with Germany to quash hate speech

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A Facebook logo reflected in the eye of a woman
IN PHOTO: A Facebook logo reflected in the eye of a woman is seen in this picture illustration taken in Skopje November 6, 2014. Picture take November6. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

Facebook announced it will work with Germany to fight anti-refugee speech and xenophobic content online. The social media giant on Monday heeded the call of German justice minister Heiko Maas to strengthen its measures combating hate speech amidst the ongoing European refugee crisis.

“Facebook users are, in particular, complaining increasingly that your company is not effectively stopping racist 'posts' and comments despite their pointing out concrete examples,” said Maas in a letter to Facebook.

He mentioned having received many complaints from users criticising Facebook for ignoring posts that want racist posts removed.

The issue resulted in a meeting between Facebook executives and the German government. After the meeting, Maas said the ministry plans to form a task force that includes the social media giant so both can work together to flag and remove racist messages more quickly, The Verge reported.

Facebook also committed to provide financial support for online organizations that will identify hate speech and start campaigns aimed at encouraging a stop to racist messages online.

The task force will determine if a post is protected by free speech or violates local hate speech laws, which explicitly prohibit hate speech directed against a person or group due to ethnic or religious background. Three years of imprisonment await violators of the law.

Germany is expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications from persons fleeing trouble spots in the MIddle East this year. The country’s asylum system is ahead from all other European countries by far, said the online London business paper, City AM . The bulk of refugees entering Germany come from Syria and Afghanistan. The influx of refugees is the main cause of anti-refugee protests across Germany.

Facebook said in a recent transparency report covering the second half of 2014 it had taken out 60 posts in Germany that advocated right-wing extremism and holocaust denial, which are both illegal in country.

Facebook Might Help Germany Remove Internet Hate Speech (Credit: YouTube/Newsy)

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