Social networks again told to crack down on hate speech

Heiko Maas is continuing his crusade against extremists. [SPD Saar/Flickr]

The animosity on social networks towards minorities and refugees increases by the week. Germany’s justice minister has once again demanded that Facebook and Twitter crack down on xenophobic content, while the Greens called for a “Facebook police” to be set up. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Given the rise in hate speech on social networks, Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) has once again called upon Facebook and Twitter to get tough on users who abuse their community guidelines.

On Tuesday (8 September), Maas told Bild that “the spread of right-wing extremist propaganda on social networks cannot be tolerated. Facebook and Twitter are in the same boat.” All social networks should have a vested interest in not providing this kind of content with a platform,” he added. Maas had previously asked Facebook to delete racist posts from its site.

>>Read: Facebook accepts German justice minister’s invitation

Hessen’s Minister of Justic, Eva Kühne-Hörmann (CDU), warned any users propagating hate speech about the legal consequences of their actions. “Anyone who thinks that remarks published on the internet are different to remarks made in the real world is wrong,” she told Bild. The Internet is “neither a legal vacuum nor subject to special conditions”. The increasing number of refugees arriving in Europe has been met by a massive increase in right-wing extremist hate and inflammatory comments on the Internet.

The Greens call for a “Facebook police”

The Greens in the European Parliament called for a “Facebook police” to be set up. “We urgently need a separate department at Europol that can work in cooperation with local authorities to systematically search forums and social networks, and which can effectively carry out cross-border prosecution,” Jan-Philipp Albrecht, a member of the Greens, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. Such an authority could be affiliated with the existing European anti-cybercrime centre in The Hague.

At the same time, Albrecht called for harmonised standards for social networks. “We urgently need clear, EU-wide rules that state what is and what is not legally acceptable on Facebook.” Albrecht warned that many different laws make it easy for Facebook to evade responsibility.

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