Austrian court forces Facebook to remove posts containing hate speech

The leader of Austria's Green Party was targeted by trolls

In what is good news for social media users and bad news for trolls, an Austrian court has ruled that Facebook must remove posts deemed as hate speech. 

The case was brought to the court by Austria's Green Party, as their leader Eva Glawischnig was on the receiving end of insults and online abuse. 

The ruling stated that the posts must be deleted across the platform, not just in Austria. The court said, merely blocking the offensive comments, without deleting them for users abroad was not sufficient. This includes any verbatim reporting of the comments made against Galwischnig. 

The court said it would be easy for Facebook to automate this process, but that the social media giant could not be expected to trawl through content to find posts that are similar to those identified as hate speech.

The Greens, however, are hoping to approach Austria's highest court to increase the impact of this ruling. They are looking for the court to force Facebook to remove 'similar', not just 'identical' posts. They are also looking for the social media company to identify the holders of fake accounts. 

"Facebook must put up with the accusation that it is the world's biggest platform for hate and that it is doing nothing against this," said Green parliamentarian Dieter Brosz.

Facebook's lawyers in Vienna declined to comment on the ruling, which was distributed by the Greens and confirmed by a court spokesman. 

This ruling comes just days after Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced his intention to target acts of violence on the platform. The company will hire some 3,000 people to work as 'community managers', bringing the total number of people in those roles to 7,4500. 

"We're working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner - whether that's responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down," he said.