15-19 Jan 2018

Court to determine if Facebook must fight hate speech

In a case of online hate speech against Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig, the European Court of Justice is about to rule whether Facebook should find and delete abusive comments.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Court to determine if Facebook must fight hate speech - NewsMavens
Eva Glawischnig. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Time and time again, former Green Party leader, Eva Glawischnig, faces insults and threats on Facebook. For example, when one of the users expresses his wish that Glawischnig was sent to a gas chamber. The Green Party reported the comment, but Facebook didn't deem this a breach of its "Community Standards".

Now the European Court of Justice is about to rule whether Facebook has to find and delete such hateful comments. The world's largest social media platform has hitherto defended itself against such measures. But now the case has landed before the Supreme Court (OGH) that passed it on to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The resulting verdict could put Facebook under global pressure.

In an interview with Der Standard, federal spokesman of the Green Party Werner Kogler called Facebook "the biggest hate platform in the world".

The Greens want this trial to be a "breakthrough for those who don't accept the situation".

The party also highlighted its concern with the "rabid and despicable" comments towards women who are in the public eye.

women's issues, gender, politics

Details from the story:

  • The Green Party of Austria's lawsuit against Facebook will be handled by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.
  • The case comes from the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH), where the Green Party sued Facebook for failing to address hateful comments against former Green Party leader, Eva Glawischnig.
  • Facebook is often criticized for not doing enough against hate speech. In one of the company's rare statements on the issue, officials commented that "Facebook is not a place for racism" and that they were aware of their responsibility.
  • The Green Party argued that the online comments about their former leader constituted slander.
  • Facebook did not delete hateful comments about Eva Glawischnig even after receiving an official request from Green Party members.
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