Facebook fined $2.3 million for violating Germany’s hate speech law

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James Martin/Techhnews

German authorities said Tuesday that it fined Facebook $2.3 million for violating the country’s hate speech law, alleging that the social network under-reported complaints about illegal content.

The Federal Office of Justice said in a press release that a transparency report Facebook released for the first six months of 2018 only included “a fraction of complaints about illegal content.”

“This creates a distorted picture in the public about the extent of illegal content and the way the social network deals with them,” the agency said in statement.

The company’s report was also incomplete because it didn’t include enough information about how the social network deals with illegal complaints, the agency said. The company also allegedly gave incorrect information about the feedback it received on the complaints.

Under German law, which is called the Network Enforcement Act, social media companies such as Facebook are required to publish a report every six months about how it handles complaints about illegal content. 

Facebook can still appeal the fine. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fine is only a small fraction of the amount of the money Facebook makes every quarter from advertising. From January to March, Facebook raked in $15.08 billion in sales.

Still, the fine from Germany highlights how Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators following a series of scandals around privacy, security and content moderation. The US Federal Trade Commission could hit Facebook with a record-setting fine of up to $5 billion dollar for its alleged privacy mishaps, which would be the largest fine the agency has issued against a tech company.

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