Austria Court Rules Facebook Must Remove Hate Speech

As Facebook reaches nearly 2 billion users worldwide, the social network has faced a new battle in the dissemination of user-generated content. Reuters reports an Austrian court has ruled the company must remove a post that is considered to be hate speech.

The decision to force Facebook to remove such hate -related statement from the social network was brought by Austria’s Green party after a fake Facebook user posted reported defamatory insults and directed to words the political parties leader Eva Glawischnig.

The Green party will later argue that the posts were not taken down despite repeated complaints. Then in December, the Commercial Court of Vienna granted a preliminary injunction asserting Facebook must remove posts considered hateful.

Facebook issued an appeal against the ruling and it apparently looks like it may have failed after the appeals court argued that the company must remove both the original post and any re-postings. The court also claimed that Facebook must remove content globally instead of just blocking my content locally. As a result, Austria’s government is pushing the removal of hateful speech not just within the country but around the world.

While the court did not suggest Facebook is responsible for discovering and removing such hate speech from the social network, Reuters reports that the Green party plans on pushing for that to occur by taking the case to the country’s highest court.

Moreover, the party is hoping to pressure Facebook to identify the owners of fake accounts and to pay damages for hate speech shared on the social network – making it easier for people to win lawsuits and seek damages for hate speech.

Facebook has been put in a precarious place over hate speech in Europe. In fact, last April politicians in Germany voted for legislation to fine Facebook €15 million if they failed to remove illegal hate speech from their social networks promptly.

This news comes after Facebook announced they would be employing 3000 more individuals to their existing 4500 staff members to review flags content. But for a social network that is on the verge of reaching 2 billion users, it seriously begs the question of whether a few thousand new staff members can monitor content constantly being shared on the social network.