German chancellor urges Mark Zuckerberg to crack down on anti-immigrant Facebook posts

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Germany’s frustrated leader that his company was considering ways to address the anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeping across the social network in response to the European refugee crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Zuckerberg about the anti-refugee sentiment at a United Nations development event on Saturday. Merkel, who has been more welcoming toward refugees than other European leaders, expressed frustration at the apparent surge of xenophobic Facebook posts disparaging refugees.

“Are you working on this?” Merkel asked Zuckerberg.

“Yeah,” Zuckerberg responded.

A Facebook spokeswoman declined to explain what Zuckerberg meant, saying only that the company was “committed to working closely with the German government on this important issue.”

To stem the tide of hateful posts, Facebook partnered with Germany to create a “task force” of Internet companies that will evaluate flag posts and delete inappropriate content. German law makes it a crime to publicly incite hatred or violence against religious or ethnic groups or to attack their dignity. A spokesman for the German justice ministry told the Wall Street Journal that the partnership with Facebook would help Germany “better identify content that is against the law and remove it faster from the Web.”

H/T Bloomberg | Photo via Takver/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.