It took some persuading, but Facebook has agreed to join an international social media task force to help combat online hate in the wake of anti-refugee xenophobia on its pages.
It’s a good outcome for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and her Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, who last week called on Facebook to remove racist comments in line with German law. This came after users complained that Facebook was not responding to their reports of racist abuse and threats.
It’s also a relative win for the tech giant, which recently boasted about one billion active users in a day and has a market value of US$245 billion.
Facebook is keen to avoid any new legislative limits on its operations and to minimise direct censorship. The company said it preferred to allow “robust” debate and discussion, rather than deletion.
But Germany has now joined the Israeli, French and Australian governments in asking Facebook to remove dangerous, offensive or illegal content.
So the pressure is mounting for it to develop more open and responsive ways of dealing with these problems.