Facebook and other social media companies agreed this week to help fight hate speech online in Germany by removing the content within 24 hours. Germany has absorbed a flood of over 1 million immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria, and the refugees’ presence has proven controversial, sparking protests and hateful actions from the country’s far right factions.
Much of this hateful speech has occurred online, and Germany has struggled with enforcing its laws in the digital space. However, the new agreement between the country and Facebook, Google and Twitter should help prevent such content from spreading too far.
“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offenses that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said. “And we agree that as a rule, this should be possible within 24 hours.”
“There’s no place for content such as hate speech, incitement or glorification of violence on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.”
While it’s pretty easy to get riled up about Facebook censoring content, most people would agree it’s a good thing for the site to step in when that content crosses the line.