- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
We doubt Mark Zuckerberg is going to “like” this update.
On Nov. 4, Der Spiegel announced that prosecutors in Munich are opening an investigation into Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and some fellow executives for possible criminal incitement and hate speech, as Facebook’s policies may be in violation of Germany’s hate speech laws. That’s according to the criminal complaint filed by attorney Chan-jo Jun in Munich, Germany in September. At the time, a Facebook spokesperson said the complaint had no merit.
Jun filed an earlier complaint in Hamburg last year, but it went nowhere because the prosecutors, according to Der Spiegel, determined that Facebook was not under German jurisdiction. Prosecutors in Munich seem to indicate that German laws might just apply to the tech giant—or, at least, they are willing to see if they do.
Also under investigation are Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook’s European and German regional managers, Richard Allan and Eva-Maria Kirschsieper, respectively.
Jun wants the the Facebook executives to be forced to remove from the site the postings he believes fall afoul of German law. He included in his filing 438 posts that allegedly contained racism, incitements to violence, and references to Nazis and the Holocaust. Facebook is certainly not the only social media platform to be criticized for its laissez-faire approach to hate speech — Twitter has been in the cross-hairs this election cycle — but there are only 4 million Twitter users in Germany. In February, Zuckerberg announced that he and Facebook would work with Germany to combat hate speech on his platform.
This is but the latest piece of bad news for Zuckerberg this week. Despite strong third quarter growth, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner warned investors Wednesday that future advertising revenue growth for the over $370-billion company will slow “meaningfully.” That walloped the value of Zuckerberg’s stake in the company, leaving him $3 billion poorer.
If there is a word to sum up such problems unique to the very rich and very powerful, it’s sure to be a tongue-trippingly German creation.
Photo credit: KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images