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November 09, 2016

German Authorities Investigate Facebook for Allowing Holocaust Denial

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German officials are investigating four Facebook executives, including the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, over allegations that the social media network tolerates hate speech, Holocaust denial and incitement—violating Germany’s national hate speech laws.

A report by United Press International (UPI) (“Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg investigated in Germany for allegedly allowing hate speech,” Nov. 7, 2016), noted that a lawyer named Chan-jo Jun filed a complaint with German courts listing 438 offensive posts that were not deleted by Facebook despite repeated requests from users. Prosecutors in Munich subsequently took action and announced their investigation on Nov. 4, 2016.

In addition to Zuckerberg, three other top Facebook executives are named in the suit: chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, European policy director Richard Allan and Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, the company’s head of public policy in Berlin.

As UPI pointed out, “German law bans hate speech targeting groups, glorification of the Nazi regime and Holocaust denial.” As such, Heiko Maas, Germany’s Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, said that Facebook has until March 2017 to comply with demands to address the problems noted in the suit. After that point, Maas said he would take action, according to UPI.

Facebook’s rules forbid bullying, harassment and threatening language. However, the social media organization has been criticized for failing to remove antisemitic posts and apologia and propaganda from terrorist groups. In one January 2014 example that CAMERA documented, an image posted on Facebook celebrated Nazi violence against civilians; perversely using Nike’s swoosh logan and slogan “Just Do It.” Initially, Facebook refused to remove the image, stating that it didn’t violate “community standards.” Eventually, the organization reversed course, removing the post and banning the user (“Facebook Admits the Obvious,” Jan. 9, 2014).

Facebook has also been used by Palestinian terrorist groups to organize and plot attacks against Israelis, as CAMERA noted in an Aug. 17, 2016 article (“Israel Busts Terror Cells Sponsored by Hezbollah, Recruited via Facebook”).

A company spokesman responded to the investigation: “We are not commenting on the status of a possible investigation but we can say that the allegations lack merit and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.”

A previous complaint by Jun was rejected by Hamburg on the grounds that the regional court lacked jurisdiction because Facebook’s European operations are based in Ireland. Yet, Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback disagreed with the Hamburg ruling, The Jerusalem Post reported (“Germany probing Facebook over lack of removal of Nazi, hate postings,” Nov. 5, 2016).

The ramifications of the current investigation by Munich authorities will, perhaps, reverberate beyond Facebook’s extensive holdings and influence. Stay tuned for updates.

Posted by SD at November 9, 2016 01:33 PM


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