Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors probe Face­book hate in­cite­ment claim

The Myanmar Times - - World -

GER­MAN pros­e­cu­tors said yes­ter­day they have launched a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter re­ceiv­ing a com­plaint al­leg­ing that top Face­book bosses in­clud­ing founder Mark Zucker­berg are con­don­ing hate speech on the on­line so­cial net­work.

“A com­plaint has been filed by a lawyer that ac­cuses, among oth­ers, Mr Zucker­berg” of “the of­fence of in­cite­ment,” the spokesper­son of the Mu­nich pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice, Flo­rian Weinziel, told AFP.

“Fol­low­ing the com­plaint, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched. What needs to be de­ter­mined now is whether the Mu­nich pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice is the com­pe­tent of­fice for such claims, and whether there has been crim­i­nal con­duct,” he said, adding that in­ves­ti­ga­tors are also look­ing into whether Ger­man pe­nal law ap­plies in this case.

Lawyer Chan-jo Jun, who had ini­ti­ated the claim, said he had compiled a list of 438 cases in­clud­ing in­cite­ment of hate and vi­o­lence as well as sup­port for ter­ror­ist groups made on Face­book, but which he said the so­cial net­work has failed to delete even though they have been re­peat­edly flagged up as of­fen­sive speech.

“The man­age­ment vi­o­lated Ger­man law, by not re­mov­ing il­le­gal con­tent from Face­book de­spite be­ing no­ti­fied, and al­low­ing the con­tent to be pub­licly avail­able,” Mr Jun said of his com­plaint.

Mr Jun last year filed a sim­i­lar chal­lenge in the north­ern city of Ham­burg but pros­e­cu­tors there re­jected the claim, say­ing that Face­book man­agers did not fall un­der Ger­man ju­ris­dic­tion.

Face­book and Twit­ter have seen a rise in anti-mi­grant com­men­tary in Europe’s big­gest econ­omy, as pub­lic mis­giv­ings grow in some cor­ners over the al­most 900,000 asy­lum seek­ers who ar­rived last year.

The govern­ment has re­peat­edly pushed the US net­works to take swift ac­tion to com­bat hate speech.

De­spite a pledge in De­cem­ber last year by Face­book, Twit­ter and Google to ex­am­ine and re­move of­fen­sive posts in Ger­many within 24 hours, users have re­ported that their re­quests to take down hate speech have of­ten hit a wall.

In an in­ter­view last month, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Heiko Maas said the on­line gi­ants had taken ac­tion only in a mi­nor­ity of cases, and warned of “con­se­quences” if they failed to meet their obli­ga­tions.

Out of the cases re­ported to Twit­ter in Ger­many, only 1 per­cent was erased, he said, while for Face­book, the pro­por­tion was 46pc.

Volker Kauder, a key mem­ber of Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s party, said the so­cial me­dia groups should face penal­ties in case of re­cal­ci­trance on the is­sue.

If the com­pa­nies fail to re­move of­fen­sive posts within a week af­ter they have been re­ported, then they should be pe­nalised, with a sug­gested fine of 50,000 euros (US$55,000) per post, he said. –

Photo: AFP

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