Boobs: No; Hate: Yes? Germans Discuss Facebook’s Censorship Policy

Boobs: No; Hate: Yes?

Germans Discuss Facebook’s Censorship Policy

While many Germans volunteer to help out refugees, others resort to cursing and slamming refugees online. “Not okay,” says the German government and has asked Facebook to delete such comments. Facebook on the other hand seems reluctant to do so.

Bike Boobs

Thousands of refugees are coming to Germany and some fear that they could hurt the country economically and make social life more difficult. Some are even so upset that they have started using hate-speech in and making racist comments on the social media website Facebook.

Others were upset not only because of the content of those posts, but also because Facebook did not delete them at all or not quickly enough even though they were reported as racist. Reason enough for the Berlin tabloid B.Z to title:


Facebook: The Asocial Network

Facebook – das asoziale Netzwerk

Cause for Criticism

Even the German government has gotten involved. The Minster of Justice Heiko Maas has asked for quicker deletion of hate-speech. Finally a topic on which Germans can agree on with their politicians, he might think.

The polling website published a statistic which suggests that 71 percent of Germans think Facebook should be legally obligated to delete hate speech.

What is difficult to comprehend for many German Internet users is that Facebook is quick to delete pictures of naked female breasts, but anti-refugee comments stay on.

Obviously, the website is capable of detecting and deleting unwanted content. The news site Spiegel Online explains what the company’s reasons might be:


While westerners are appalled that the company cracks down more vehemently on naked breasts than on foreigner slams, Facebook points out that many users from other countries wish for strict rules for nudity—and apparently Facebook wishes to grow in those countries.

Migrants and refugees are not recognized as one homogenous group. Had the rabble-rouser(s) slammed Albanians or Syrians, then these posts would have been deleted. The community standards to which Facebook is referring do not recognize “refugees”. That is why many netizens who report racist posts often receive the confusing response: “The comment does not violate our community standards.”

Während sich Westler darüber empören, dass die Firma vehementer gegen nackte Brüste vorgeht als gegen Ausländerhetze, verweist die Firma darauf, dass sich Nutzer aus anderen Ländern striktere Regeln gegen Nacktheit wünschen – dies sind oft Länder, in denen Facebook noch wachsen will.

(…)Migranten und Flüchtlinge sind dabei nicht als geschlossene Gruppe definiert. Hätte der Pöbler gegen Albaner gehetzt oder gegen Syrer, dann wäre sein Post wohl verschwunden. Die Gemeinschaftsstandards, auf die sich das Unternehmen bezieht, kennen keine Flüchtlinge. (…) deshalb bekommen Nutzer, die rassistische Beiträge gemeldet haben, so oft die irritierende Antwort: “Der Beitrag verstößt nicht gegen unsere Gemeinschaftsstandards.”

“Hypocrisy,” says the German satire blog Der Postillon and ridicules Facebook’s attitude by writing:


In this case even the hands of the biggest social media network are tied: According to Facebook thousands of slam-comments, which are reported by netizens, escape deletion daily because these comments almost never contain female nipples “If for example someone writes that all refugees should be gassed, we of course don’t think that’s nice, but as long as this comment is not garnished with at the very least a square millimeter of a female breast nipple, our hands are tied,” said a Facebook spokesperson in summary of the company’s conflict.

Da sind selbst dem größten sozialen Netzwerk der Welt die Hände gebunden: Täglich entgehen nach Angaben von Facebook tausende von Nutzern gemeldete Hetz-Kommentare der Löschung, weil sie so gut wie nie Abbildungen von weiblichen Nippeln enthalten. “Wenn jemand zum Beispiel fordert, dass alle Flüchtlinge ins Gas gehören, dann finden wir das natürlich unschön, aber solange er diesen Kommentar nicht mit wenigstens einem Quadratmillimeter weiblicher Brustwarze garniert, sind uns leider die Hände gebunden”, fasst eine Facebook-Sprecherin das Problem des Konzerns zusammen.

In all seriousness

Facebook is not just criticized jokingly. The public TV and radio station NDR asks:


Facebook: Hate or Breasts—What is worse?

Facebook: Hass oder Brüste – was ist schlimmer?

But Facebook hate messages do not only occupy German journalists, the German police are getting involved as well. Posting messages that call for violence and/or are racist are a matter to be investigated. The social media team of the Berlin police has a clear viewpoint when it comes to xenophobia on the Internet:


… In a network where freedom of opinion is a valued commodity, the line between unbearable and prosecutable posts is blurry. And at this point we call upon you guys’ social responsibility. … If you find prosecutable content …, then take a screenshot and save the link and notify our online police station

(…)In einem Netzwerk, in dem die Meinungsfreiheit ein hohes Gut darstellt, verschwimmt schnell die Grenze zwischen unerträglichen und strafbaren Beiträgen. Und hier appellieren wir an Eure soziale Verantwortung… (…)Findet Ihr strafbare Inhalte …, dann sichert diesen per Link und Screenshot und meldet das … unserer Internetwache.

That is something that many Facebook users are already doing. Not only because they are appalled, but also because they think that hate speech in the virtual world can lead to violence in real life.

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