Facebook managers were the subject of an investigation conducted by German prosecutors, who alleged that the social network failed to do what’s needed to remove hate speech from its platform. But on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office in Hamburg said the investigation has now been dropped.
German unit not at fault
Whether or not Facebook managers were guilty of infringing on criminal laws after users posted hateful comments against specific groups or people on the platform is what the investigation sought to find out. Owing to the huge influx of refugees into Germany, hate speech targeting specific groups or people on the social network had increasingly become a major concern.
The allegations stated that the failure of the U.S. firm to remove such posts swiftly may amount to incitement, which is a criminal offense in Germany. Facebook’s German managers were the target of the investigation, which was dropped because Facebook’s German unit is tasked to acquire customers and has nothing to do with removing unlawful user posts, said the spokeswoman. Facebook’s U.S. executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were not investigated.
Attorney Chan-Jo Jun, who made the allegations, doesn’t want the investigation to be terminated and hence has filed a complaint against it, said the spokeswoman. Whether prosecutors will take up the probe again or not is not clear for now. Jun argued that the decision to drop the probe was inconsistent with the prevailing opinion and rulings in other cases.
Some relief for Facebook
In the fall, the German government struck an agreement with Facebook to work together to identify and remove content that is illegal under German law. However, the company continuously received criticism from politicians for not acting fast enough to delete comments that were extremely anti-refugee.
This decision from prosecutors comes as a relief for Facebook, which is under fire in Germany for other reasons as well. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is investigating whether or not the social network abused its dominant position to force users to surrender a vast amount of personal information. According to a separate court ruling, websites no longer have permission to send visitor data to Facebook via the company’s “like” button without the knowledge or consent of visitors.