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Facebook Hits Back in Hate Speech Row

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany, which has taken in over one million migrants since the start of 2015, is worried that fake news and hate speech related to the influx could skew the outcome of the general election in September.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Draft laws published by the German interior minister propose mandatory deadlines for deleting offensive online content, with networks like Facebook liable for fines of up to €50 million for non-compliance.
    • Complaints that Facebook was too lax on removing posts triggered an investigation by German prosecutors into Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives last year.
    • Germany, mindful of Nazi abuses of human rights, has strict laws against incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial.
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Germany is considering a law to curb hate speech and fake news. Source: Reuters

Facebook has been having a tough time in Germany, where it’s been accused of failing to stem a tide of hate-filled tirades against refugees. It has also become the focus of politicians’ fears of fake news that could impact the general election in September.

Now Martin Ott, Facebook’s top manager in Germany, has hit back in an interview with Handelsblatt, criticizing a planned German law to fine social networks sites up to €50 million ($56 million) if they fail to remove illegal content quickly.

“We don’t think the law is constructive because it shouldn’t be up to private sector companies to decide what is legal or illegal. That’s the task of courts,” Mr. Ott said.

In his first interview as a manager responsible for Germany, Mr. Ott conceded that the Silicon Valley-based firm had initially been a bit slow to remove hate-filled comments.

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