Several German news sources....including Reuters and Fortune....are reporting Facebook being dragged to the next phase of accusations by the German government of having no motivation over moderation. In effect....they aren't acting to remove racist hate speech.
Facebook did the bare minimum necessary today....by saying there is no violation of German law by the company or it's employees, and the allegations show no merit.
This step? Well....it's a state prosecution team in Hamburg that got the complaint, and they are simply starting an investigation. Whoever turned in the complaint....simply said that they were failing to act and remove racist speech....under the new German sedition act (since January).
Under the new wording....any comment that slams a nationality or ethnic group (or religion) can be considered racist.
Who determines this wording to be racist? Well, the guys who wrote the law simply said that it'd be obvious.
I personally think that Facebook is testing the Germans to come into a court, and then ask the judge who will be the monitor for the German government and for each single accusation or complaint....who will represent the government in denying a person their rights to free speech. My guess is that the German judge team assigned to this.....will grin to some degree....and realize that each single time....probably within Germany itself on an hourly basis....there's at least 1,000 comments which might test the term of 'racist'.
You see....Facebook doesn't want the duty, nor should it be part of their service or obligation. There are approximately 22 million Germans who are in Facebook. To be kinda honest....there's some belief that at least ten-percent are fake members, but it's best not to mention this to Germans in a casual conversation (it'll just end up being an accusation that Americans are pretending to be Germans and get them all upset).
With 22 million users....you'd need an army of at least 2,000 moderators working around the clock for someone....maybe Facebook....maybe the German government....maybe the BND....maybe some German judges. They would be responsible for limiting conversation, eradicating comments that deemed inappropriate, and moderating conversation so that only authorized talk could occur.
Oddly, two guys could meet on a street and talk racism for hours and hours....with no problem. But if the two guys met via Facebook and had a public meeting there with possible viewers....it'd be a violation of the Sedition Act of Germany. Confusing? Oh, Facebook knows just how bad this very unclever law was drafted and put into place.
Presently, what the Germans would like is for some task force of joint effort....with Facebook employees on their payroll.....acting as moderators....and the German government would instruct them...."X is bad, Y is good, and Z is borderline".
Even if Facebook fell into this game and accomplished this....would it fix everyone? Well....no. Germans could shock people.....especially the German government....by simply slipping off to Facebook Tonga, getting fake Tonga names and accounts, and talking racism there. Would it be noticed? I suspect the Germans would eventually realize, upon reviewing network traffic conditions.....that an awful lot of Germans were now Facebook Tonga and the racist comments there would make some Germans cry, weep, and blubber over the terrible behavior noted.
Things were so much better before 2004, when Facebook didn't exist and there were no public bulletin boards where you could share your anger, frustration, hostility, howling, sobbing, whimpering, and tasteless cat pictures. If you were racist....all you could do is go down to the local pub....sip five or six beers and down a shot of cheap Austrian brandy, and lament over some terrible racial injustice that you felt by some Italian, Turk, Albanian, or Brit. The bartender would hear you blubber and that'd be the full extent of your public demonstration.
Now? You got stupid internet, Facebook, tons of people who either do think like you or pretend they think like you, and you chat for hours and hours over stupid things.
It will be entertaining to see how the prosecution team from Hamburg proceeds and if they actually drag Facebook into a court. The judges? They will be prepared and ask how this would all work, and eventually the public will realize that it took dozens of stupid politicians to make a law which just won't work in the practical world. Or maybe the judges will decide to test fate and push Facebook enough to toss out twenty-two million Germans as Facebook members, and admit it was just too powerful a platform for Germans to ever handle.