German prosecutors are not satisfied with how Facebook handles hate speech, so they're going after its executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Prosecutors in Munich are reportedly investigating Zuckerberg, as well as other Facebook executives, for potential hate speech and criminal incitement. The investigation should also determine whether Facebook's policies are in violation with hate speech laws in the country.
Attorney Chan-jo Jun reportedly filed the criminal complaint in Munich back in September, German publication Der Spiegel reports. Jun filed another complaint last year in Hamburg, but it hit a dead end because prosecutors ultimately decided that Facebook did not fall under German jurisdiction. It remains to be seen whether the new complaint will have a better fate, but Munich prosecutors seem to think it might stand a chance.
The new complaint alleges that Facebook failed to remove hate speech from its social network even after learning that it was violating German laws. Moreover, the complaint mentions Zuckerberg by name, as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook's European and German regional managers, Richard Allan and Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, respectively.
Jun seeks to force the Facebook executives to remove the postings considered in violation of German law. The filing contains examples of such violations, listing 438 posts that are allegedly racist, incite to violence or make references to Nazis and the Holocaust.
This is not Facebook's first brush with such matters, as the social network was even sued for facilitating terrorist attacks. Facebook is not the only one in this position either. Twitter was similarly accused of facilitating ISIS "hateful rhetoric," and a number of other heavyweight tech players are trying to combat online hate speech.
The latest investigation that German prosecutors launched against Facebook, Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives is part of a wider crackdown seeking to make the online environment clean of hate speech. Just earlier this week, a German justice minister said that both Facebook and Twitter would face legal action if they don't improve their responses to hate speech.
Facebook already pledged back in August to collaborate with authorities in the fight against terrorism, following the terror attacks in Germany.
It remains to be seen whether the latest complaint against Facebook in Germany will achieve its goals, since Facebook has its European operations based in Ireland and would therefore not fall under German jurisdiction.
Facebook, for its part, says it hasn't violated any German laws, and it's working on combatting online hate speech.
"We are not commenting on the status of a possible investigation but we can say that the allegations lack merit and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees," said a Facebook spokesman, as cited by Reuters.