Hate speech will be deleted in a day in Germany

German coat of armsGermany has received a promise from Facebook, Google and Twitter they will delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours.

The move is a step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies.

“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net. And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”

Germany last month launched an investigation into the European wing of Facebook over its alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.

Martin Ott, Facebook’s managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe based in Hamburg, may be held responsible for the social platform’s failure to remove hate speech, a spokeswoman for the prosecution said last month.

A Facebook spokesperson said the allegations “lack merit” and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.

Facebook has a partnership with a group called FSM, which monitors multimedia service providers on a voluntary basis, and has said it would encourage its users to push back against racism.

Vandals attacked its offices in the northern city of Hamburg at the weekend, damaging the entrance to the building and spraying “Facebook dislike” on a wall.