BERLIN – Mark Zuckerberg conceded Friday that Facebook didn’t do enough until recently to police hate speech on the social media site in Germany, but said it has made progress and has heard the message “loud and clear.”
German authorities, concerned about racist abuse being posted on Facebook and other social networks as the country deals with an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants, have been pressing social media sites for months to crack down.
The Facebook CEO talked personally about the issue in September with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and met her chief of staff during a visit to Germany this week. The Merkel meeting “really highlighted how much more we needed to do in this country,” he said at a town hall event in Berlin.
“Hate speech has no place on Facebook and in our community,” he said. “Until recently in Germany, I don’t think we were doing a good enough job. And I think we will continue needing to do a better and better job.”
Zuckerberg pointed to efforts, including funding a team to work with police to combat hate speech on Facebook. He said learning more about German law has led the company to expand its view of “protected groups” there and “to now include hate speech against migrants as an important part of what we just now have no tolerance for.”
“There’s still work to do,” he said. “We want to do that, but I think we hear the message loud and clear and we’re committed to doing better.”
Zuckerberg, meanwhile, faced other issues at his own company headquarters in Menlo Park, California. He lashed out in an internal memo this week at employees who crossed out “black lives matter” on Facebook’s signature walls and replaced the words with “all lives matter.”
The incidents apparently continued although Zuckerberg told employees they were unacceptable.
“I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behaviour before, but after my communication I now consider this malicious as well,” Zuckerberg wrote in a letter published by the website Gizmodo and confirmed by a Facebook source who demanded anonymity because the issue was an internal matter.
“There are specific issues affecting the black community in the United States, coming from a history of oppression and racism,” Zuckerberg wrote. “‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t — it’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve.”
In Berlin, Zuckerberg praised Germany’s approach to Europe’s migrant crisis. Merkel so far has maintained an open-door policy for refugees, seeking an elusive diplomatic solution to reduce an influx that has prompted an increasing number of countries to impose national border restrictions.
“German leadership in the refugee crisis, I think, has been inspiring and is a model for the world,” Zuckerberg said. “I hope the U.S. follows Germany’s lead on this.”
AP Business Writer Joseph Pisani contributed from New York.