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Mark Zuckerberg Visits Berlin
   2016-02-27 19:24:09    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Huang Yue

File photo of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zucherberg [Photo: diankeji.com]

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a 2-day visit to Berlin for his latest 'town hall meetings.' Germany has recently pressured the American company to stamp out online hate speech against refugees.

Ira Spitzer reports from the German capital.


Mark Zuckerberg is in demand these days. The 31 year-old billionaire was a keynote speaker at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, before coming to Berlin to accept an award, meet with government officials, and hold the latest of his town hall meetings which are live streamed on Facebook. But many American tech companies have found that doing business in Germany can be challenging. Facebook has had to balance its natural stance towards free expression with Germany's hate speech laws, which were designed with the country's nazi past in mind.

"Really, our education and learning more about German culture and German law has led us to change our approach on that to now include hate speech against migrants as an important part of what we just now have no tolerance for being part on Facebook. So, you know, this is always a work in progress. I am not going to claim up here today that we are perfect. I will definitely not."

The German government though seemed to embrace the company's efforts to work with them on this. The refugee crisis as made Facebook a hotbed of controversial far right rumors and viewpoints. Federal Minister for Special Affairs Peter Altmaier sounded a positive note after the meeting.

It was a very good and constructive conversation. In Germany we want of course that illegal content be removed from the Internet. That doesn't only apply to Facebook but certainly includes Facebook. We are in the midst of intense discussions about this.

Zuckerberg also announced that his company would be focussing heavily on allowing users to stream live videos, saying that he hoped the feature would be available as soon as in a month.

"What we have seen so far is that the demand for it has been very great, not just for public figures and people of big audiences who we expected to really enjoy it, but also for a lot of young folks, you know people in high school, and college, who really want this kind of raw, emotional, visceral ways to share and connect with the people around them."

Facebook may have learned from the mistakes of fellow Silicon Valley company Uber, who effectively tried to circumvent German law only to end up basically unable to operate in the country. For the moment, it seems that the German public and the government are more than happy to work with Facebook.

This is Ira Spitzer for CRI in Berlin.



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