Facebook launches ‘Initiative for Civil Courage Online’ to delete racist and threatening posts

The site has pledged over a million euros to fund non-governmental organisations as they work to counter racist and xenophobic posts

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 19 January 2016 16:59 GMT
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A Nasdaq television reporter is seen inside the Nasdaq studios as the Facebook logo is displayed on a ticker board on May 17, 2012 in New York City
A Nasdaq television reporter is seen inside the Nasdaq studios as the Facebook logo is displayed on a ticker board on May 17, 2012 in New York City (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Facebook has launched a million Euro plan to help get rid of racist and threatening posts from the site.

The “Initiative for Civil Courage Online” aims to remove hate speech from the site by finding and then removing comments that promote xenophobia.

Facebook has a range of rules for what exactly can be posted on the site, which includes bullying, harassment and hate speech. But users have complained that the site doesn’t work hard enough to get rid of hateful comments.

The work will particularly concentrate on Germany. There, it will work with a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann to watch for and then get rid of racist posts.

Germany has been hit particularly by the spread of hate speech on the site. The country is struggling to cope with a huge number of refugees, including 1.1 million in the last year, and many voice their dislike for foreigners and migrants on the site.

The criticism of Facebook became so strong that Hamburg prosecutors investigated Facebook because of its role in allowing such hate speech. The criticism also came from Angela Merkel, who asked that Facebook do more to identify criminal posts more quickly.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that “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,” she said as she announced the launch of the initiative.

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