Twitter and Facebook, being the most popular social networking sites, are used widely for spreading hate speech in Germany as the country is seeing a huge influx of refugees. To counter this online racism, Germany said today that Facebook, Google and Twitter have all agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours.
All agree to 24 hours rule
With the rising influx of refugees – almost 1 million this year — anti-foreigner comments in German have been increasing rapidly on the web. After complaints from several people, the government there has been trying hard to get social platforms to crack down on this problem. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that under the new agreement, users and anti-racism groups will be able to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies (Twitter, Facebook and Google) in a much easier manner.
“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offenses that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” Maas said. “And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”
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Since last month, Germany has been investigating Facebook’s European head after the U.S. firm allegedly failed to remove racist hate speech. A spokeswoman for the prosecution said last month that if the social platform fails to remove hate speech, then its managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe, Martin Ott, will be held responsible. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the allegations lack merit, and neither Facebook nor any of its employees has violated German law.
Twitter warns against state-sponsored attacks
In a related issue, Twitter issued a warning to some of its users that they could become victims of state-sponsored hacking. This is the first such warning from the micro-blogging firm. In its notice, Twitter said there was no indication of hackers obtaining sensitive information from the small group of accounts that were targeted, says a report from Reuters.
Twitter did not provide any additional information regarding the attack or possible suspects in its investigation. Coldhak, a Winnipeg-based non-profit, said it got the warning from Twitter on Friday. The notice said hackers may have tried to get information like “email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers.”