Germany says Facebook, Twitter and Google to crack down on hate speech

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany announced a deal on Tuesday (Dec 15) with social network giants Facebook, Twitter and Google to clamp down on hate speech, with the Internet companies pledging to remove offending posts within 24 hours.

Pressure has grown on the US companies in Germany to take action after the number of xenophobic and racist comments online exploded, with the far-right taking aim at the record number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany this year.

Alarmed by a spike in posts inciting racial hatred and violence, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas had warned that social networks must not "become a funfair for the far right".

On Tuesday, Facebook, Twitter and Google committed to removing "illegal content promptly, that is, within 24 hours", said Maas.

"Complaints will be examined by specialist teams. And the benchmark to be applied will be German law and no longer just the terms of use of each network," he added.

The three US companies also pledged to make it easier for users to report offending posts. A monitoring mechanism would also be put in place to review whether the system is working, said Maas.