Facebook Isn't Great at Policing Racism, Says German Minister

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Facebook isn't doing enough to rid the site of hateful, racist rhetoric, according to German Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

Maas sent a letter to Facebook saying its action on such issues were "urgent." The letter was obtained by Der Tagesspiegel, as well as Bloomberg.

According to Maas, Facebook is not complying with users' reporting of racist content, often being told the content doesn't actually violate community standards.

"Facebook users are, in particular, complaining increasingly that your company is not effectively stopping racist 'posts' and comments despite their pointing out concrete examples," read the letter.

Mass called it "incomprehensible" that “photos of certain body parts are automatically deleted because of moral concerns, yet racist and xenophobic statements aren’t immediately removed.”

“There must be no mistaken tolerance for users that offensively preach xenophobia and racism," he said.

Facebook's terms of service bans any content that "is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." Facebook defines "hate speech" as content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases."

"People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices. Such discussion can promote debate and greater understanding. Sometimes people share content containing someone else's hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech. When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose, which helps us better understand why they shared that content," says the company. "We allow humor, satire, or social commentary related to these topics."

So there is some wiggle room, in cases of satire and commentary.

“There is no room for racism on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters. "That kind of content violates our community standards and we appeal to people not to use our platform for the spread of hatred ... We work hard every day to protect people on Facebook from abuse, hatred and bullying."

Whether Facebook is doing enough, or at least all it can in good faith, to remove racist content is debatable. What's not is Facebook's fear of the human body.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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