Facebook launches initiative to counter hate speech in Europe

New York, Jan 19 (IANS) In a bid to answer critics that it has not done enough to tackle online racist and hate speech at a time when Europe is going through a refugee crisis, Facebook has started a new initiative to counter extremist posts on the social networking website in Europe.

Called “Online Civil Courage Initiative”, it is based in Berlin and supported by the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

“Take a moment to share your story or idea supporting counter speech, with the goal of combatting online extremism and hate speech. In order to make change, everyone needs to “ feel empowered to share their voice and exercise ?#?civilcourage?,” read the message on the initiative’s Facebook home page.

According to Facebook, it will invest one million Euros in European non-governmental organisations that are fighting online extremism.

“Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence. With this new initiative, we can better understand and respond to the challenges of extremist speech on the Internet,” said Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, while announcing the initiative in Berlin.

London-based think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue will lead the initiative.

The initiative is a partnership between Facebook, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence.

Facebook has faced complaints in the past that it has not done enough to take down racist and xenophobic hate speech.

In November last year, German prosecutors launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over the social media platform’s failure to remove racist hate speech.

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