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As Facebook’s userbase grows ever closer to the 2 billion mark, the site is facing increased pressure over hate posts. In Austria, a court has ruled it must remove content deemed as hate speech, and not only in that country – they must be deleted worldwide.
The case was brought by Austria’s Green party last year after posts insulting its leader appeared on the social network. MP Eva Glawischnig was called a “rotten traitor” and a “corrupt tramp” by the fake profile.
The party claims that despite repeated requests, the content wasn’t taken down. The commercial court of Vienna ruled in December that Facebook must remove posts deemed hateful under Austrian law.
Reuters reports that Facebook appealed the decision, but the Viennese appeals court has strengthened the earlier ruling. Any verbatim reposts must now also be removed, and the company must delete them globally, rather than only blocking them in Austria.
It seems the Green party still isn’t satisfied with the outcome. It requests that similar posts be removed, not just identical ones, and wants to take the case to a higher court. Additionally, the party is calling for the identities behind the fake accounts to be revealed and is asking Facebook to pay damages, arguing that doing so would encourage hate post victims to pursue legal action against the company.
"Facebook must put up with the accusation that it is the world's biggest platform for hate and that it is doing nothing against this," said Green parliamentarian Dieter Brosz.
Last year, Facebook began a Europe-wide campaign to stop racist and extremist posts on its site. More recently, it added 3000 people to its 4500-strong worldwide team of community operators to help review flagged content.