German Court rejects Facebook’s censorship in midst of refugee crisis

By Karolina Klaskova
3 Min Read

The highest federal court in Germany has ruled that blocking two users for comments on Facebook about the 2018 migration wave was illegal and violated freedom of speech, reported the server of the weekly Der Spiegel, referring to the court’s verdict. Facebook flagged the posts, deleted them, and blocked the authors – one for thirty days, the other for three.

The court said that the company can delete posts and block users in case of violation of the rules, but those concerned must be informed in time of any blockage and must be given space to explain their comments.

Facebook users seeking legal redress wrote the posts in 2018.

One wrote that he could not recall any assassination attempt by the organization Reich Citizens (Reichsbürger), adding: “Germans are criminalized because they have a different view of their home country than the regime. Migrants can kill and rape here and nobody cares!”

The second case concerned a post saying, “They will never integrate here. These golden pieces can only do one thing: murder, thieve, and riot.“

Facebook must now reactivate the posts in question, according to the court’s decision. The accounts of both complainants must not be blocked again due to these contributions.

Both plaintiffs argued, among other things, for freedom of expression.

In its “communication policy”, Facebook determines what is and what is not allowed on its platform. Hate speech against refugees has not been allowed under the rules for several years.

“We protect refugees, migrants, immigrants, and asylum seekers from the most serious attacks, but we allow comments and criticism of immigration policy,” say the rules of communication on Facebook.

Title image: In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square. A German federal court has faulted aspects of Facebook’s handling of “hate speech”, at least in the past. It ruled Thursday that the social network giant can’t delete posts without at least informing users afterwards and must give users advance notice when it moves to suspend their accounts. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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