The "Closed Oyster" award has gone to Facebook for its lack of transparency in handling hate speech online. Reacting to the journalists' negative citation, the social media site insisted it was "open and transparent."
German investigative journalists' group "Netzwerk Recherche" on Saturday said that despite follow-up queries to Facebook, it was still "not discernible when, whether and on the basis of what criteria" the firm deleted hate speech from its global data operations.
"That people misuse Facebook for such commentaries doesn't lie within the concern's responsibility, but how it responds certainly does," the group said.
The association, whose name translates as "network research," with more than 600 members, last year awarded its "closed oyster" (pictured above) to the German gun-maker Heckler & Koch based in Baden-Württemberg.
In the association's laudatory speech in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weichert, a former data protection commissioner, said Facebook's business model was based on spreading "uncontrolled opinions."
It gathered data and utilized this commercially. Transparency and control would be "poison" for this business model, Weichert said.
"Facebook still thinks just as little about creating transparency and how xenophobes can be converted toward humanity with counter-argument," he added.
Facebook turned down an invitation to attend Netzwerk Recherche's annual conference in Hamburg on Saturday.
A letter from Facebook spokesperson Tina Kulow said that the concern had implemented "a multiplicity of measures in the struggle against hate comments and agitation."
Visiting Berlin in February, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said there was no place for hate speech on the site.
At the time, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Facebook had a special responsibility to ensure that hate commentaries are "removed from the net."
Past "Closed Oyster" awards have also gone to the world football federation FIFA, Germany's ADAC automobile club, the Catholic church and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
ipj/bk (dpa, KNA, AFP)