Germany Fines Facebook $2.3Mln for Violating Transparency Law

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BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany’s Federal Office of Justice said Tuesday that it had issued Facebook a 2 million euro ($2.3 million) fine for failing to meet transparency rules about how the social media giant tackles offensive content.

The Irish branch of the US-based website has been obligated under German law to submit reports every six months on how it is handling complaints about illegal content.

"The number of complaints was underreported. This distorted the public’s idea of how widespread illegal content is and how the social network deals with it", a press release read.

The German authority said Facebook had two methods of flagging content. Complaints reported through one were reflected in a report for the first half of 2018. This method is easily overlooked, it said.

Facebook can appeal the decision. The networking giant said that 1,704 pieces of content had been reported by 886 users between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2018. As a result, 362 items were blocked or deleted.

In May, the international campaign group Avaaz conducted a Europe-wide investigation into Facebook disinformation networks and found more than 500 accounts spreading fake news. In particular, in Germany illegal pages were promoting the right-wing Alternative for Germany party.

Following the 2018 scandal around Cambridge Analytica, which saw the personal data of about 50 million Facebook harvested without their permission to help target political advertising, the social network pledged to intensify efforts to protect its users.

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