“Hate speech has no place on Facebook and in our community” said Mark Zuckerberg last Friday during a public “town hall” session in Berlin, Germany. Identifying migrants as a minority that needs protection, Facebook’s CEO conceded that the social network has not adequately policed hate speech until recently.
German authorities, concerned about racist abuse being posted on Facebook and other social networks as the country deals with an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants, have been pressing social media sites to crack down for months.
Because of its Nazi past, German laws protecting minorities from people inciting hatred are particularly strict. The Ministry of Justice criticized the social network by saying it acts quicker to remove sexual imagery than it does racist messages.
Therefore, Facebook, Twitter and Google reached a deal with the German authorities to get tougher on offensive content.
Zuckerberg said learning more about German law has led the company to expand its view of “protected groups” and added it was important “to now include hate speech against migrants as an important part of what we have no tolerance for.”
He also said he heard the message “loud and clear” as some progress has recently been made, including funding a team to work with the German police to combat hate speech on the social network.
Having talked personally about the issue in September with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Facebook’s CEO offered praise for Germany’s approach to Europe’s refugee crisis. Merkel so far has maintained an open-door policy for refugees, seeking an elusive diplomatic solution to reduce an influx that has prompted an increasing number of countries to impose national restrictions.
“German leadership in the refugee crisis, I think, has been inspiring and is a model for the world,” Zuckerberg said and added, “I hope that more countries follow Germany’s lead on this, I hope the US follows Germany’s lead on this.”