Facebook wants to stop tough hate speech laws

Facebook phone
The EU wants Facebook to increase efforts to fight the proliferation of extremist content and hate speech. Photo credit: Reuters

Facebook executives are fanning out across Europe this week to address the social media giant's slow response to abuses on its platform, seeking to avoid further legislation along the lines of a new hate speech law in Germany it says goes too far.

Facebook's communications and public policy chief used an annual meeting in Munich of some of Europe and Silicon Valley's tech elite to apologise for failing to do more earlier to fight hate speech and foreign influence campaigns on Facebook.

"We have to demonstrate we can bring people together and build stronger communities," the executive, Elliot Schrage, said of the world's biggest information-sharing platform, which has more than two billion monthly users.

"We have over-invested in building new experiences and under-invested in preventing abuses," he said in a keynote speech at the DLD Munich conference on Sunday.

In the US, lawmakers have criticised Facebook for failing to stop Russian operatives using its platform to meddle in the 2016 presidential elections, while Britain's parliament is looking again at the role such manipulation may have played in Britain's Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube signed a code of conduct with the EU in May 2016 to review most complaints within a 24-hour timeframe.

Instagram and Google+ will also sign up to the code, the European Commission said.

New figures show social media companies now review more than two-thirds of complaints within 24 hours, compared to May 2017, where only half of complaints were reviewed within the same time period.

According to Facebook, it considers hate speech "content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease.

"We do, however, allow clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack."

Reuters