Facebook has launched a new initiative to counter extremist posts, hate speech and racism on the social networking website across Europe, after German politicians in particular raised concerns about a rise in xenophobic comments linked to an influx of refugees.
Called “Online Civil Courage Initiative”, it is based in Berlin and supported by the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.
Under this Initiative, the social networking giant said it would invest more than €1m to support non-governmental organisations that work to combat online extremism.
Announcing the launch of the initiative, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said: “The best cure for bad ideas is good ideas.
“The best remedy for hate is tolerance.
“Hate speech has no place in our society – not even on the Internet.
“Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence.”
Top German politicians and celebrities have voiced concern about the rise of anti-foreigner comments on Facebook and other social media as the country struggles to cope with a tide of new migrants that amounted to 1.1 million last year alone.
Free speech has become a hot button topic across Europe and particularly in Germany, where police and media were accused of trying to cover up the sickening Cologne sex attacks.
In November, German prosecutors opened an investigation into a top Facebook executive on allegations of inciting racial hatred.
The social network already bans comments that are harassing or threatening, but critics say it does not do enough to quickly take down posts that contravene these guidelines.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Facebook to do more, and the Justice Ministry set up a task force with Facebook and other social networks and Internet service providers with the aim of identifying criminal posts more quickly and taking them down.