Germany warns Facebook: Clamp down on Holocaust denial - or else

Facebook will have to abide by German laws banning racist sentiment even if it might be allowed in the United States under freedom of speech, Berlin's justice minister told Reuters.

By REUTERS
August 28, 2015 19:58
1 minute read.
Facebook

People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Facebook will have to abide by German laws banning racist sentiment even if it might be allowed in the United States under freedom of speech, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with Reuters.

Maas, who has accused Facebook of doing too little to thwart racist and hate posts on its social media platform, said that Germany has zero tolerance for such expression and expects the US-based company to be more vigilant.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"One thing is clear: if Facebook wants to do business in Germany, then it must abide by German laws," Maas told Reuters. "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does."

"Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred are crimes in Germany and it doesn't matter if they're posted on Facebook or uttered out in the public on the market square," he added.

Maas sent a letter to Facebook public policy director Richard Allan in Dublin saying he received many complaints from users that their protests on racist posts have been ignored. He suggested meeting in Berlin on Sept. 14.

Maas is a leader of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The party faced a flood of racist emails, phone calls and bomb threat after its chairman Sigmar Gabriel denounced an anti-refugee "mob" behind anti-refugee violence in the eastern town of Heidenau.

The town near Dresden was the scene of violent clashes last weekend as far-right militants, protesting against the arrival of around 250 refugees at a local shelter, pelted police with bottles and rocks, some shouting "Heil Hitler."



"The internet isn't a place where laws are ignored, where indictable comments can be spread with impunity," Maas said, adding he found it appalling that some were using Facebook to spread hatred against refugees and the Germans helping them.

"There's no scope for misplaced tolerance towards internet users who spread racist propaganda. That's especially the case in light of our German history."

A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company took his concerns seriously and it was interested in meeting the justice minister. Maas said he was looking forward to the meeting.

"It's in Facebook's own inherent interest that it is not used as a platform for racist content," he said.

Related Content

Holocaust  Remembrance Day
July 22, 2018
Hundreds in Georgia mourn Jewish soldier killed in Afghanistan

By JTA