Germany asks Facebook to remove 'racist' anti-migrant posts
Germany is calling on Facebook to remove “xenophobic and racist” anti-migrant posts from its website and apps.
Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, has written to the company to demand an urgent review of its policy over hate messages.
“Photos of certain body parts are automatically deleted because of moral concerns, yet racist and xenophobic statements aren’t immediately removed,” Mr Maas wrote.
The minister’s intervention comes amid a spate of violent anti-migrant protests in Germany that have seen more than 30 police officers injured and several refugee shelters torched in arson attacks.
“There must be no mistaken tolerance for users who offensively preach xenophobia and racism,” Mr Maas wrote.
He said he had decided to take action after numerous German Facebook users complained to the ministry that xenophobic posts weren’t deleted even after they were flagged as inappropriate.
“Such statements regularly amount to criminal offences, in particular the incitement of hatred, and may amount to public provocation to commit crimes,” the minister wrote.
He requested the company to send a senior representative for talks at the ministry on September 14.
Facebook responded swiftly, agreeing to the talks and issuing a statement condemning xenophobic posts.
“Facebook is no place for racism,” the company said.
“Such content clearly violates our community standards and we would urge people not to try and use our platform to distribute hate speech.”
Facebook is “very interested in an exchange with federal minister Maas on what society, business and politics can do together against the spreading xenophobia in Germany,” a spokesman for the company told Süddeustche Zeitung newspaper.
The German car company Porsche fired a trainee at one of its offices in Austria last month after he posted a xenophobic comment on Facebook.
Some 20 shelters for asylum-seekers have been torched in arsons attacks in Germany this year, and stone-throwing protestors have tried to block migrants from reaching shelters.