Facebook Inc Must Take Initiative To Fight Online Hate: Germany

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, visited Facebook’s offices in Berlin on Monday. The minister said that the social media giant should be more proactive in removing forbidden content from its platform. He also said the company should take down racist content from its pages on its own initiative, even when it has not received a complaint, says Voa News.

Facebook must take the initiative

“Facebook has an immensely important economic position and, just like every other large enterprise, it has an immensely important social responsibility,” De Maiziere said.

De Maiziere recognizes Facebook’s efforts to develop software that can identify outlawed content in a better manner. The minister also praised Facebook’s efforts to fight child pornography.

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“But it’s up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld,” he said. “A company with a good reputation for innovation will have to earn a good reputation in this area.”

Facebook was a leader in the social media sector in fighting extremism, but more work is needed, said Mark Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who now heads the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) in New York. CEP is a non-profit group that has a database of information about extremist groups, reports Voa News.

Wallace told Reuters that of all the companies, Facebook has done the most, but they are all beginning to recognize that the weaponization of social media platforms is good neither for society or for business.

Discussions to continue

During de Maiziere’s visit, Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, Facebook’s head of Public Policy in Germany, told reporters that the discussions between the companies in social media and political leaders would continue.

In the past, the German government has been pretty critical of the social media platform. Political leaders and regulators have censured the social media giant for being slow in responding to hate speech and anti-immigrant messages. Last year, Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Reuters that the social network must follow the stringent German laws banning racist sentiment, even if it might be allowed under freedom of speech in the U.S.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Berlin earlier this year. Responding to the censure, Zuckerberg said that he has learned from Facebook’s experience in Germany that migrants are a group of people who needed to be safeguarded from hate speech online as well.