As per Reuters, Facebook had reportedly stated that it has deleted numerous offensive posts after an anti-online-hate speech law surfaced in Germany at the beginning of 2018. As stipulated, this law charges punitive fines of up to 50 million euros ($58 million) for its violation. In this scenario, the giant social networking site Facebook has come under the scanner after the law (which is known as NetzDG in Germany) came into being, with as many as 1,704 complaints lodged against Facebook under the law. Therefore, the following suit, as stated by Richard Allan (the Vice President of Facebook) in a blog, 262 posts were taken down between January and June. Allan stated that these were the posts that fostered hate against people who were made soft targets owing to factors such as sexual orientation, religion, nationality, and ethnicity and that: “Hate speech is not allowed on Facebook.”
In Germany, the complaints were made against the posts on grounds of varied offenses such as defamation, insult, incitement to crime and hatred, with the largest number of posts being removed for insult. This was the case in Germany, despite Facebook not being a very popular social media go-to in Germany than other European countries. This claim is corroborated by the fact-check of only 2 to 5 Internet users accessing Facebook, yet the hate speech law bears testimony to the magnitude of the social impact caused by social media handles such as Facebook and the gravity of it.
The law was fuelled primarily due to the hate-imbued propaganda posts of Germany’s 20th-century history of Nazi and Communist rule that contradict Facebook’s policy norms of freedom of speech. Mark Zuckerberg was censured in Germany after his controversial statement in a recent interview that Facebook should not delete statements that deny the nightmare of the Holocaust as a historical truth which is nothing short of blasphemy in Germany, following which he had to clarify the statement.
Under the NetzDG, as per Allan, Facebook has deployed a team of efficient 65 members who look into the complaints. All in all, a huge number, 2.5 million posts to be precise, were done away with between January to June, on charges of violating the community standards that check objectionable content on the site.
Allan’s statement as posted on his blog demonstrates Facebook’s compliance and support of the law: “We have taken a very careful look at the German law. That’s why we are convinced that the overwhelming majority of content considered hate speech in Germany, would be removed if it were examined to see whether it violates our community standards.”
In the wake of the recent tide of totalitarianism and even jingoism in the name of nationalism and freedom of speech across the globe, the ‘freedom’ in the speech might just have to be put under a tiny leash in order to avert it from degenerating into spewing hate. And the baby steps are to be taken right from the platforms of mass involvement, starting with influential ones like Facebook, backed by laws such as NetzDG.