Facebook pledges to combat racism on German platform

Facebook said it was "convinced that social media can be used effectively to discuss and question views such as xenophobia
Facebook said it was "convinced that social media can be used effectively to discuss and question views such as xenophobia

Facebook pledged Monday to combat racist hate speech on its German-language network amid a spike in xenophobic comments online as Germany faces an unprecedented influx of refugees.

The US network said it would encourage "counter speech" and step up monitoring of anti-foreigner commentary, as company representatives met German Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

With Germany facing a record influx of refugees and a backlash from the far right, social media like Facebook have seen an upsurge of hateful, xenophobic commentary.

Facebook said it would work with organisations in Germany "to develop appropriate solutions to counter xenophobia and racism and to represent this online".

Maas, who has recently said Facebook should not "become a fun fair for the far right", said new measures to combat xenophobia online could be introduced "from now to the end of the year, if possible."

"The objective is to improve the management of (user) reports" against xenophobic comments, the minister said.

Facebook has urged its users to report offensive postings and announced a partnership with the group Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers (FSM).

Opposition Greens party co-chief Katrin Goering-Eckardt several days ago read out in a YouTube clip a litany of verbal attacks that had been posted on her Facebook page, and urged the company to "finally ensure that such hatred and filth" is deleted.

She said freedom of expression is important but "has its limits when it comes to agitation to commit violence, or sickening hate speech".

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Facebook was required to delete posts in violation of German laws against incitement of
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Facebook was required to delete posts in violation of German laws against incitement of racial hatred

Using Facebook to organise aid

Many users say that when they complain to Facebook about offensive posts, the network often responds that after a review the post does not violate its community standards.

Users also accuse the company of double standards for cracking down swifter and harder on nudity and sexual content than on hate-mongering.

Maas said Facebook was required to delete posts in violation of German laws against incitement of racial hatred, and has for weeks urged the company to delete racist comments and threats that have targeted politicians, artists and volunteers helping refugees.

Weeks ago Germany's most popular film star, Til Schweiger, blasted fans who left dozens of anti-migrant comments on his Facebook page after he appealed for donations for a refugee charity.

With Germany facing a record influx of refugees and a backlash from the far right, social media like Facebook have seen an upsur
With Germany facing a record influx of refugees and a backlash from the far right, social media like Facebook have seen an upsurge of hateful, xenophobic commentary

And a German TV journalist's impassioned call last month for an "uprising of decent people" against racism and attacks on asylum-seekers was viewed more than five million times via Facebook alone within 48 hours, drawing an outpouring of both support and scorn.

Facebook said in April it would not allow the social network to be used to promote or terrorism as it unveiled a wide-ranging update of its global community standards.

Facebook said it was "convinced that social media can be used effectively to discuss and question views such as xenophobia."

The vast majority of Germany's 27 million Facebook users did so in a very positive way, said Eva-Maria Kirschsieper of Facebook Germany.

"We are seeing that many groups are organising humanitarian aid for new refugees on our platform," she said.


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© 2015 AFP

Citation: Facebook pledges to combat racism on German platform (2015, September 14) retrieved 23 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-facebook-pledges-combat-racism-german.html
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Sep 15, 2015
This is absolutely disgusting, if people want to voice their opinions against having refugee's going into their country then they should be free to do so without being labeled racists and their comments deleted, what the hell happened to free speech? The way the worlds headed no one will be able to comment on anything if their opinion is deemed 'offensive' by anyone, instead of the internet being a place of free thought and discussion.

Removing someones ability to even just complain about something they dislike is a slippery slope down to total individual censorship.

RMQ
Sep 15, 2015
Obviously some of us think the (degrees of) freedom of speech need restraining, because it allows hatred to be spread and some of us do not see hateful speech as a good positive act for society. Yes, people are welcome to complain, to express discomfort and anxieties, but not to use racist labels, or derogatory terminology.

Sep 15, 2015
It seems pretty obvious to me that this is in response to the many people in germany who have taken to the internet to voice their dissatisfaction about the sheer number of refugees being let into their country, but if you voice that kind of opinion it's deemed hate speech, or it will be, where are the limits as to what 'hate speech' is? Until we get an exact view of where the line is and what crosses it, there's grounds for anything of a negative nature to be taken down as soon as some crybaby is offended, which is just wrong.

RMQ
Sep 15, 2015
I don't find innocence so appealing.

Germany has a very serious history of hatred based on race. Hitler, probably you heard of him, left a legacy of anger, hatred, and murder that still has followers today. Those followers, as Hitler himself, are not well intentioned, good people. They are people that believe more or less that if I am stronger than you, I have the right to crush you. No compassion, no empathy, only brutality, cruelty and domination. And they will lie and deceive without remorse, read history of the xx century. We are in a war with Hitler legacy, a dirty war, we are not fighting against gentlemen, but against hogs.

Germany has done great giving people education, soon the racists will be no more there. They will be in places like Alabama or west Virginia with awful education systems.

Sep 15, 2015
Germany has been trying to shed the stigma of world war 2 and hitler for so long that they've come full circle and gotten closer to it than they realise. Censoring free speech and deciding without our consent what 'hate speech' means, not to mention the slippery slope to further censorship. When you repeal someone's free speech it can only get worse from there.

Shit, I remember just a few weeks ago there was a news story about how a German mans house was searched and he may be put in jail for up to THREE YEARS just because of a Facebook post where he commented about that refugee kid who washed up in Australia and said he was glad he had died because they don't need more refugees. I'll admit that kind of comment is cold and insensitive, but to be jailed for potentially three years over a post like that is just a gross exaggeration of the law and it's wrong. At least try to look at things objectively instead of emotionally

RMQ
Sep 16, 2015
It seems that what is underlying your comments is a push for the rigid USA constitution, that people in the USA prefer to worship. Free speech (and ignorance) is what maintains hatred, maintains the kkk and such organizations beloved by the hate groups in the USA. Don't forget that the kkk and other forms of hatred were inspiring to Hitler, he admired the USA hardcore racism.

I prefer a man 3 years in jail, than a man showing up in a church to kill people who are praying. But it is because I don't see USA government as my family, or as something that needs worship. Government is to serve the people, not the other way around. Many parts of the USA constitution needs change, the country is a mess and it is partly because of its government.

Sep 16, 2015
I think you're going into way too far an extreme here. People can be beligerant and cold-hearted but just because someone may voice disagreement to a morally accepted issue ((like helping refugees)) doesn't mean that they're going to go shoot up a church if they don't get their way. If anything, censoring that kind of disagreement is what would probably fuel those harsh actions, because there's nowhere to calmly discuss these thoughts and opinions with other people on a large scale, you bring it up to anyone and you'd be labeled a racist.

I don't even live in the US, so at least I can look at this kind of thing from an outside perspective, and I still think censoring even just the simple act of making a facebook post, even if it's belligerent and/or mean spirited is completely over the top and unnecessary, and will only cause more frustration among people with these opinions, even those without them like myself who just appreciate free speech

RMQ
Sep 16, 2015
Very likely you are white, that's why the "free speech" doesn't bother you.

The Germans know better, because everyone in the planet relates Germany to Nazis in a second, and the Germans know how nasty that is. I had been in parties when German people commented about ANYTHING and quickly the audience move the talk into the holocaust.

Americans racists on the other side, and many other racists from Europe, try to stay in their countries to avoid the fame of their nations. When Americans leave the USA they go to Ireland, France or Australia, or other white places where racism is tolerated, where they allow "free speech".

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