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Complaints over Internet xenophobia on the rise in Germany

Complaints about Internet racism and child pornography have risen in Germany, a web watchdog has said. The report comes amid an upsurge of refugees in the country in 2015.

Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers (FSM) said on Monday that they received a total of 5,448 complaints in 2015, registering a rise of 10 percent over 2014.

FSM received 139 complaints against racism in 2015 compared to 50 percent in the previous year. Right-wing web content witnessed an upsurge of nearly five percent, with 256 cases being reported in 2015. These included 55 cases of

holocaust denial

and the distribution of unconstitutional right-wing propaganda material, the group said in a press release.

The organization believed the increase could be a fallout of the refugee crisis. "The rise of such complaints may be linked to social tensions regarding the refugee crisis. Reasons could include an actual increase in this kind of content, but also a more active tendency to report because of higher awareness among the population."

Complaints over child abuse

Around 28 percent, or 1,542, of the complaints were against child pornography sites on the Internet. FSM said the numbers indicated a rise of of 13 percent compared to last year. This could be due to a change in laws against sexual assault last year. "Since 2015, certain poses, which were only recognized by the youth media protection law earlier, have been included in the penal code," FSM wrote in a statement.

The organization said that 98 percent of the content was deleted following complaints. It also managed to delete a substantial amount of child pornography content in foreign countries within four weeks of the complaints being filed.

The FSM also reported an increase in "referral-based" websites, which created problems while trying to delete illegal content. These websites show illegal material only if the user follows a certain digital path. Internet users usually report using website URLs, but these web addresses show only legal content when one clicks on them. The digital paths for such URLs are not easily simulated.

The organization also works closely with Facebook to delete racist and sexually offensive content.

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