Facebook To Combat Hate Speech In Europe

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02:  Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, speaks on December 2, 2011 in New York City. Facebook will be opening a center for engineers in New York City in 2012. Facebook, the world's largest social networking company, is expected to file for an IPO in April, and a public offering could reach a valuation of up to $100 billion and raise $10 billion.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In response to the criticism that Facebook has faced due to their perceived lack of action, the social media giant has decided to crackdown on hate speech in Europe. German politicians have been voicing their concerns about xenophobic posts being made on the site in the midst of the country accepting Middle Eastern refugees.

Called the “Online Civil Courage Initiative,” Facebook launched their campaign with the intentions to fight extremism and promote the civility that already exists on the site. The company’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg made the official announcement about the group’s goals Monday in Berlin.

“We are especially pleased that the Germany Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, that we have already been working with in a task force against online hate speech since September 2015, is supportive of the initiative,” Sandberg said. “We all have a responsibility to take on dangerous content – offline and online. Thus, we have repeatedly emphasized that Facebook is no place for the dissemination of xenophobia, hate speech or calls for violence.”

Facebook pledged over €1 million ($1.09 million) to support non-governmental organizations in their efforts to counter racist and xenophobic posts. This coalition figures to serve as a benchmark for Sandberg and company’s stance against discrimination.

Though the company had already had policies against racism, bullying and harassment, their critics were quick to acknowledge that little had been done about the damaging rhetoric being used as of late. The main reason for the recent attention is the widespread hate speech being used on Facebook in reaction to European nations, Germany in particular, whom have accepted upwards of 1 million refugees from dangerous areas. These problems have only been exacerbated by a series of sexual assaults perpetrated by migrants within the past few weeks.

While it appears that not everyone in the general public agrees with the sentiments of the Initiative for Civil Courage Online (read the page’s comment sections at your own risk), this is something that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been calling for.

What do you think? Is this a step in the right direction for Facebook? Or will this be a difficult rule to enforce? Let us know in the comment section below or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: Business Insider
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