Facebook erases Czech hate page against Islam, other racist pages still running
A xenophobic Facebook page called "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" ("Islám v České republice nechceme") has been blocked by the company after acquiring 65 000 fans. Administrators of the social networking site seem to have responded to several years' worth of Facebook users warning them about its hateful content.
Other hateful, racist profiles, however, continue to run on Facebook. "We have done our best mainly to report individual posts - most of them were photos or offensive, xenophobic commentaries. We hoped that if Facebook had to remove most of that content, then over time the whole profile would be removed, and that's what has happened," Tereza Cajthamlová, who began to report the page together with her friends approximately a year ago, told news server Lidovky.cz.
"I am personally bothered by any kind of hate speech on Facebook, such as comments, graphics, or photographs aiming to deny someone their rights, whether because of their religion, their sexual orientation, or their skin color. That page was accumulating such materials. Recently I was most bothered by photographs of Muslims being posted there - people who had no idea someone had taken a picture of them on the street. The administrators of the page and the Islamophobes who visited it were writing rather tasteless comments beneath the photos," Cajthamlová said.
The anti-Islam activists, however, immediately established a new page. It now has more than 2 000 fans.
Blogger Jan Cemper warns that the page may not have been removed from Facebook because of racial hatred, but could have been removed for posting unpermitted advertising. "Today I received some essential information, which is that the blocking of those pages may not have been due to their Islamophobia, much of which was on the edge of criminal liability, but may have been due to commercial sales taking place on those pages. In some cases, items from the workshop of the famous photographer of nudes Jiří Sláma were being promoted," Cemper writes on his blog.
Sláma has produced a t-shirt reading "This is my home... You've come to my country... You are the minority, so respect my culture and faith, my customs and laws!" ("Já jsem tady doma… Přišel jsi do mé země… Jsi zde menšinou, proto respektuj mou kulturu i víru, mé zvyky a zákony…!") and those who set up the "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic" Facebook page got him to agree to give them CZK 40 for each each t-shirt sold through them. Cemper reports that they posted the following status update to the page: "Buy this shirt at www..., or the English version at www....! Use the code "IvČRN" when ordering and CZK 40 will go to resisting the Islamicization of our beautiful country."
It is against Facebook's terms to place an ad for a third party on a profile. The company has long been criticized for its lax approach to pages with hateful content.
The removal of openly racist pages from Facebook can take weeks. This was recently acknowledged by lawyer Gabriella Csehová, who is the Strategic Director of Facebook for Central and Eastern Europe.
"We are aware that not everything is completely optimal. It's extremely demanding to provide effective feedback, to communicate directly with you as to why we have made a certain decision. We have more than one billion users. We're addressing how to arrange all this technically, how to ensure that our responses will not just be automatic replies. We are systematically improving the system and in the near future you will see further developments in this area," Csehová said in an interview for the Czech news server Echo24.cz.
Facebook has three security teams - in Austin, Texas, in Hyderabad, India, and in Dublin, Ireland - who follow all its pages 24 hours a day. "Reports of hate speech are read by human beings because these are matters of context in which one and the same word can mean something completely different in another context. Naturally we also have technical ways to assist this," Csehová says.
Recently several openly hateful pages against Romani people have been created in the Czech language on Facebook. Other users have reported them to the company, but nothing is being done about them.
The same automatic reply is always sent to those who report such content: "We have audited the page you reported as containing hate speech or symbols and have determined that it does not violate our Community Principles". Facebook recommends reporting individual comments in such cases.
The editors of Romea.cz tested that procedure recently on a photo of Adolf Hitler accompanied by a text reading "There will be enough gas for all of you!!! Once we destroy the Romea company we will use the money they have stolen from the state and the taxpayers to buy it."
Even that post was not evaluated as hate speech by the administrators of Facebook. Last Saturday the ROMEA orgnaization called on its own Facebook page for several hate-filled profiles to be reported, openly anti-Romani racist pages such as "Zbavme Beztrestně ČR cikánů" (Let's rid the Czech Republic of gypsies with impunity"), "Nechceme živit Romské obyvatelstvo" ("We don't want to feed the Romani population") or "Boogymen in Europe" (Bubáci V Evropě).
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