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Germany

Germany launches 2.0 fight against Nazis

Social network platforms in Germany have launched a week-long campaign to battle right-wing extremism on the internet. Facebook has been criticized for not taking part.

The webpage Faecebook and the NPD logo. Photo: dpa

Extremists are becoming increasingly savvy on social networks

The initiative "Social Networks against Nazis" was launched on Monday in Berlin by 20 social networks such as MySpace, Youtube and StudiVZ. The aim is to mobilize users of social networks to join the battle against neo-Nazi ideas on the Web by reporting extremist content.

"Right-wing extremists are part of all social networks in Germany and they are trying to place their hateful, racist and inhuman statements," a spokesperson for the initiative told reporters. "Nazis try to recruit online, and they have been more subtle than they used to be, which makes it harder to identify them right away."

German Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner launched the campaign together with the organizers the online portal "netz-gegen-nazis", ("net against Nazis"), the Amadeu-Antonio foundation and the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Aigner said that "enemies of the constitution - right-wing extremists as well as left-wing extremists - should not find a place on these platforms." She also encouraged the social networks to make use of their "domestic authority" and use it as a way to get rid of Nazis.

Big player facebook not on board

Since a broad range of social networks are taking part in the week-long campaign, critics have mentioned the fact that the big player in the social networking world - facebook - is not among them.

"We appreciate the initiative "netz-gegen-nazis" and we are looking forward to a cooperation in the future," a spokesperson for facebook told Deutsche Welle. "But at the moment, our company in Germany is still in its set-up-period."

Rechtsextremismus auf youtube

The vast amount of data makes a screening beforehand impossible

Huge amount of data causes problems

One big problem for social networks is the amount of data uploaded to their sites. According to Youtube, 24 hours of video material gets uploaded every minute which makes a pre-screening of all material impossible. But once a video was recognized as containing Nazi content and was taken down, the user cannot upload it again even if he renames it, said Youtube - thanks to a special video recognition software.

Simone Rafael from "netz-gegen-nazis" said right-wing extremists had become cleverer and refrain from posting obvious notes. Instead, they raise a controversial issue such as "death penalty for child abusers" in order to gather people in a group and bring them closer to their ideas.

Author: Sarah Steffen (dpa/epd)
Editor: Rob Turner

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