Social media colossus Facebook, finds itself in trouble over transparency, once again. Germany’s Federal Office of Justice has fined the company $2.3 million for understating the number of complaints against hate speech in the country.
It appears that Facebook failed to follow Germany’s Network Enforcement Act (also known as NetzDG). NetzDG requires social networking sites, which receive more than 100 complaints (against hate speech and other unlawful content) per year, to publish half-yearly report. These reports consist of complaints handled through procedures in accordance with NetzDG procedures.
In Facebook’s transparency report, for the period July to December 2018, the company said that it has received 1,117 complaints which includes 800 items related to Holocaust denial and 139 items related to reports of defamation. These complaints are far low compared to what YouTube and Twitter have received. These sites reportedly have received more than a quarter million complaints on their platforms.
It should be noted that these low numbers correspond to the complaints which get categorized according to the NetzDG procedures while Facebook’s community guidelines have different standards. The complaints categorized under the transparency law are “harder to find on Facebook”, according to what Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said, as there’s no option for that.
A Facebook spokesperson said to Reuters, “We want to remove hate speech as quickly and effectively as possible and work hard to do so.” He also said the company’s reports are in accordance with the law and pointed out that “this law lacks clarity.”
The German transparency law restricts access to number of items in compliance with the Protection of Young Persons Act (JuSchG) and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors (JMStV). This bans contents which advocates right wing extremism, and Holocaust denial.