Facebook Inc launched a Europe-wide campaign yesterday to thwart extremist posts on social media, after German politicians in particular voiced concerns over rising xenophobic comments linked to an influx of refugees.
Under its "Initiative for Civil Courage Online" in Berlin, the social network has pledged €1 million to support non-governmental organisations in their efforts to counter racist and xenophobic posts.
"Take a moment to share your story or idea supporting counter speech, with the goal of combatting online extremism and hate speech. In order to make change, everyone needs to " feel empowered to share their voice and exercise civilcourage," read the message on the initiative's Facebook home page.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said hate speech "has no place in our society", including in the internet.
Facebook's ground rules forbid bullying, harassment and threatening language, but according to critics, the rules were not being properly enforced.
Facebook said Friday, that it had hired a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann to monitor and delete racist posts on its platform in Germany.
In November, prosecutors in Hamburg launched an investigation into Facebook over alleged failure to act against hate speech.
Top German politicians and celebrities had voiced concern over the rise of anti-foreigner comments on Facebook and other social media as the country braced to cope with 1.1 million new migrants who came in last year alone.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had urged Facebook to do more, with the justice ministry setting up a task force with Facebook and other social networks and internet service providers to indentify criminal posts more quickly and to take them down.