Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced confrontation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel over incendiary posts related to Europe’s refugee crisis on the platform. Merkel’s conversation with the CEO was overheard, highlighting the rising number of complaints on the anti-immigrant posts, reported Bloomberg on Sunday.
Merkel pushes Facebook CEO for quick action
On the sidelines of a UN luncheon on Saturday, Merkel was caught on a hot mic, creating pressure on Mark over removal of the posts made on Facebook related to the wave of Syrian refugees entering Germany, says the report. Mark too was overheard saying that the firm needs to work upon curtailing such posts.
“Are you working on this?” Merkel asked him in English, to which Mark gave an affirmative reply after which the talks got disrupted.
A civil war in Syria is forcing locals to seek asylum on the European shores. Germany being the largest European economy has given shelter to the majority of the migrants, and this has lead to widespread objections within the country.
Facebook Inc took a vow earlier this month to clean up all the content from the German version of its website that it deemed as racist. At that time, the firm said that for overseeing the hate postings it will partner with a non-profit group. Despite the intentions, whatever action Facebook chooses to take is bound to stroke concerns over the free speech, so it will be hard for the CEO to balance the two forces. In the past, the firm has been criticized for suppressing or deleting the posts and groups propagating unpopular beliefs.
Internet access to refugee camps
Separately, on a similar issue, Facebook CEO promised to assist in bringing internet access to the refugee camps, Mark said while speaking at the UN’s Private Sector Forum. For this, the firm will work with an inter-govt. body. Calling it an “enabler of human rights” and a “force for peace,” the CEO said it will help to make internet available to people who don’t have access to it, reports The New York Times.
Having more people online would be beneficial to Facebook Inc itself, said Mark, adding “It’s not all altruism. We all benefit when we are more connected.” How, when and where Facebook will start offering the internet to refugees first is not known for now, but the firms Internet.org initiative has been working on a similar problem since past few years.
In pre-market trading today, Facebook shares were down 0.58% at $92.23. Year to date, the stock is up over 17% while in the last one-year they are up almost 18%.