One of the major events of 2015 was the European migrants & refugee crisis. Scores of people were fleeing conflict and terror group ISIS from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq opting to take the dangerous journey through land and sea as they seek better and safe places to live. Europe was a destination for most of these immigrants. Germany being the largest economy in Europe decided to take in 800,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Naturally, not everyone accepted the refugees whose high number was reminiscent of the post World War 2 period. Some German residents took to social networking sites and especially Facebook spewing vitriol on the issue and spreading hate against the refugees.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor asked Facebook, to enforce strict measures against the posting of xenophobic messages on its platform. The social networking site responded by partnering with the German internet watchdog in monitoring efforts of these outbursts. Posts found to contain hate speech, border incitement or contained threats were removed from the site with authorities engaged to pursue the perpetrators. However, this system was not purely 100% as online hate speech escalated.
Social networking sites also face the problem of terrorist and hate groups using their platforms to propagate their heinous and hate agenda to the masses. These groups use these platforms to recruit, incite and spread fear. In fact, Twitter has been sued by the wife of a person who was killed in Jordan after a terror attack for allowing ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is suggesting a rather interesting way of tackling online hate, which will deal a blow to ISIS and other hateful pages. Sandberg says the best antidote to hate speech is tolerance and urges people to counter the hateful messages posted online through positive and uplifting messages. Sandberg cited the case of a neo-Nazi page in Germany that was flooded with likes and legions of positive messages in what she called a “like-attack”. This might just work!