Facebook Inc started a Europe-wide campaign on Monday for the purpose of thwarting extremist posts on its platform. This move follows growing concerns among German politicians over rising xenophobic comments linked to an influx of refugees.
New initiative to fight racism and harassment
Facebook launched its Initiative for Civil Courage Online in Berlin and pledged to give away over 1 million euros ($1.09 million) to support non-governmental organizations in their efforts to fight against racist and xenophobic posts on the platform, says a report from Reuters. The social networking site’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said there is no place for hate speech, either in our society or on the Internet.
“Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence. With this new initiative, we can better understand and respond to the challenges of extremist speech on the Internet,” Sandberg said when announcing the initiative in Berlin.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank based in London, will lead the initiative, which is a partnership with Facebook, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence.
Is Facebook making sincere efforts?
Facebook does have ground rules in place meant to forbid users from using the platform for bullying, harassment and threats, but critics say that the company does not enforce them properly. On Friday, the company informed users that it has hired a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann to monitor and delete racist posts on its German platform.
However, prosecutors in Hamburg, who claim that the U.S. firm is not taking sufficient steps to curb hate speech, launched an investigation in November. Anti-foreigner comments on Facebook and other social media are rising rapidly, and this has caught the attention of top German politicians and celebrities who have voiced their concerns about the issue.
Germany is struggling with a tide of new emigrants, who were 1.1 million in last year alone. Previously, Facebook received a request from Chancellor Angela Merkel to do more about the issue. Also the Justice Ministry has set up a task force with Facebook and other social networks and Internet service providers with an aim to identify criminal posts quickly and take them down immediately.