Photographer: Jiangang Wang/Getty Images

Facebook to Target Racist German Posts Amid Surge in Refugees

  • Germany seeks swifter action after surge in xenophobic posts
  • Facebook to increase monitoring of hate speech, spur debate

Facebook Inc. said it would step up efforts to target racist posts on its German website after the government called on the social network to crack down on a surge in xenophobic outbursts against refugees.

The U.S. company said it would join forces with a Germany Internet watchdog, a non-profit group called Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers, to monitor suspected hate postings from users.

“We have effective systems, but they are not always 100 percent effective,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s regional vice president for policy, said in Berlin after meeting with German Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

German authorities have been grappling with the country’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with as many as 1 million seeking refuge from war and poverty expected to enter the country this year. Even as many have rushed to welcome the newcomers, the surge has also spurred a spate of attacks on refugee centers and anti-foreigner sentiment.

Maas welcomed Facebook’s move, saying that hate speech that crossed into unlawful incitement and open threats would be removed more quickly and authorities would pursue perpetrators.

“The faster such hate speech is removed from the web, the better,” Maas said.

In an Aug. 26 letter, Maas demanded that Facebook “urgently” review its practices after users had complained that the site didn’t remove xenophobic posts even after they were reviewed.

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