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    Austrian Court Rules Facebook Must Clean Up Hate Speech

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    In an effort to combat “trolling” on social media, an Austrian court has ruled that Facebook must delete postings deemed hate speech, in a decision that may affect online behavior both regionally and elsewhere.

    The Austrian Green Party first brought the case, to get insults aimed at leader Eva Glawischnig removed from Facebook. 

    Glawischnig was called a "lousy traitor" and a "corrupt bumpkin" by a person using an assumed named on the social media platform.

    The Green Party wanted to wipe the offending posts and posts across the platform that were copied verbatim against Glawischnig, which they were granted, as simply blocking users didn’t have much of an effect.

    Though the court noted that automating this process should be no problem for the social media platform, they could not be reasonably expected to hunt down similar, rather than identical, offensive postings. 

    The ruling comes as European lawmakers attempt to get tech companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook to remove posts that could encourage violence as quickly as possible.

    Last month the German cabinet approved a plan to issue fines up of up to $55 million to social networks if offensive postings aren’t removed fast enough. The European Union is considering enacting similar measures for its member states as well.

    The Austrian Greens hope to take the case to the country’s highest court, as they expect Facebook to additionally pay damages and identify people who create fake accounts. 

    Green parliamentarian Dieter Brosz said, "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."

    Last week Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement on his page announcing the company’s plans to hire 3,000 additional personnel to help reduce hateful and violent content on the platform, to supplement the 4,500 people already on the job.

    He wrote, "These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation. And we'll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it — either because they're about to harm themselves, or because they're in danger from someone else.

    In addition to investing in more people, we're also building better tools to keep our community safe. We’re going to make it simpler to report problems to us, faster for our reviewers to determine which posts violate our standards and easier for them to contact law enforcement if someone needs help. As these become available they should help make our community safer."

    Facebook has fielded criticism of late for allowing violent, illegal or sexual content on its platform, as a number of suicides, rapes, kidnapping, shootings and even murder have been broadcast from the site.

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