Facebook must do better at fighting racism, says Germany

Facebook should proactively remove hateful content, says minister

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Facebook must improve its policing of hateful, violent and abusive content on its platform, Germany has said.

Following a visit to the company's Berlin offices, the country's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, has called for the company to take a more proactive role in removing posts.

"Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn't yet received a complaint," he said, in comments reported by Reuters.

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"Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has an immensely important social responsibility."

The comments come just days after the UK's Home Affairs Select Committee lambasted major social media companies for "consciously failing" to fight radicalisation and extremism on their networks.

Facebook in particular has come under fire from German policymakers in the past. It had been accused of being slow to respond to hate speech, and German ministers warned Reuters that Facebook must comply with Germany's strict laws regarding racist content.

The posting of illegal material is explicitly banned under Facebook's terms of service, and while justice minister Heiko Maas has praised this, he has also cautioned that "it's up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld".

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Facebook has committed to addressing German legislators' concerns, said the company's head of public policy for Germany, Eva-Maria Kirschsieper. "We know that we have a major responsibility and we want to live up to this responsibility. We take this issue very seriously indeed," she said.

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