Top German Court Condemns Facebook’s Past Handling Of Hate Speech

On Thursday, a German federal court condemned Facebook’s handling of hate speech in the past. The court ruled that the social media giant must not delete posts without informing users afterwards. Facebook must also give users advance notice if their account is to be suspended. 

Two cases dating back to August 2018 were considered by the Federal Court of Justice. Facebook had deleted comments that criticised Muslim migrants and other people of immigrant origin. The social media giant also suspended the users’ accounts. However, the Federal Court ordered Facebook to restore the posts, ruling that Facebook was not entitled to remove the posts or suspend the accounts under its April 2018 conditions of use. The conditions of use prohibited users from violating community standards and banned hate speech, however, “hate speech” was not clearly defined under the conditions. 

The court said that the social media giant is, in principle, entitled to set standards that exceed legal requirements to reserve the right to delete posts and suspend user’s accounts. However, at a bare minimum, Facebook must commit to informing users about the removal of a post or provide advance notice of suspension and the reason for suspension.

In an emailed response, Facebook said it welcomes the Federal Court’s ruling. 

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