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Facebook Launches Online Campaign Against Hate Speech


“...Facebook is no place for the dissemination of xenophobia, hate speech or calls for violence."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Facebook announced the launch of its "Online Civil Courage Initiative" campaign Monday, which is geared toward targeting and eliminating social media hate speech.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg unveiled the initiative in Berlin Monday evening in partnership with the German Ministry of Justice and consumer Protection, as well as other NGOs throughout Germany and Europe that are fighting to reduce hate speech and other radicalized content on social media, according to Tech Insider.

“We have repeatedly emphasized that Facebook is no place for the dissemination of xenophobia, hate speech or calls for violence,” Sandberg stated in a press release. “With this new initiative, we are convinced to better understand and respond to the challenges of extremist speech on the Internet.”

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg delivers a speech during Global Women Leadership Summit in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Credit: AP Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivers a speech in Tokyo July 2, 2013. (AP)

Facebook is also partnering with the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Internation Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence in its endeavors, according to Forbes.

The OCCI campaign will uphold three major pillars in its execution — "financial support to NGOs that are already countering online extremism; the development of best practices for use by NGOs, governments and other online services; and academic research initiatives to understand the roots of extremism and hate speech," Forbes reported. Facebook has already pledged more than $1 million for the new project.

Facebook's OCCI campaign has led some critics to express concern regarding the fine line between exercising one's right to free speech and expressing radicalism, extremism, and other forms of hate speech since these agencies execute their own judgments on what is acceptable and what is not, Forbes noted.

The OCCI campaign comes in the wake of an investigation by Hamburg's state prosecutors into criticism of Facebook's handling of hate speech and accusations that the company is not doing enough to curb it.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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