In light of the increased attention being paid to racist trolls and their online vitriol, Facebook is throwing its support (and €1 million) behind an initiative to fight against hate speech on the social network in Europe.
The company's new Initiative for Civil Courage Online aims to moderate speech it considers to be bigoted or meant to incite violence against minorities. Together with International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, the Institute from Strategic Dialogue, and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, Facebook is helping to develop more effective ways of combating online racism.
In particular, top German politicians have voiced their concerns as Facebook has become a go-to platform for those incensed at the influx of refugees making their way into German borders.
While the ICCO plans on assisting NGOs in multiple European countries, Germany, which accounts for 22 million Facebook visits per month, will be one of the first to take decisive action in line with the ICCO's vision.
Working with the German Justice Ministry and the Bertelsman media group, Facebook will more closely monitor users' posts, flagging those deemed to be hate speech and taking action to discourage users from that sort of behavior.
In addition to creating a set of anti-harassment goals, the ICCO is working to help fund non-governmental organizations fighting "online extremism" and studying what causes people to post hate speech so freely on the internet.
Though Facebook's official policy has always forbidden users from directly bullying and harassing one another, many of the social network's critics have been quick to point out that it doesn't always enforce these rules as strictly as it could.