BERLIN Germany's justice minister vowed on Monday to work with Facebook Inc to thwart racist and hate posts, acting on worries about a rise of xenophobic comments in German on social media linked to Europe's refugee crisis.
Germany is expecting a record-breaking influx of refugees this year and politicians and celebrities have voiced concern about the rise of anti-foreigner comments in German on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Chancellor Angela Merkel last week urged Facebook to do more and the social media company met Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Monday at his suggestion.
Maas said after the meeting that his ministry would set up a task force with Facebook and other social networks and internet service providers with the aim of identifying criminal posts more quickly and removing them.
"This is a joint task for the whole of society, and I am very grateful to Facebook that they are taking their responsibly in this joint task," Maas told a news conference in Berlin.
Facebook earlier announced a partnership with a group called FSM, which voluntarily monitors multimedia service providers, and said it would encourage its users to push back against racism.
Maas earlier wrote to Facebook public policy director Richard Allan in Dublin saying he had received complaints from users that their protests about racist posts had been ignored.
Maas is a leader of the center Social Democrats (SPD). The party faced a flood of racist emails, phone calls and bomb threats last month after its chairman Sigmar Gabriel denounced a "mob" involved in anti-refugee violence in the eastern town of Heidenau.
(Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by David Holmes)