April 30, 2018 / 5:15 PM / a year ago

Facebook must block commentary calling AfD leader a 'Nazi swine': court

BERLIN (Reuters) - Facebook (FB.O) said on Monday it had already removed a posting that called German far-right leader Alice Weidel a “Nazi swine”, but would consider its next steps after a court issued a preliminary injunction against the social media network.

FILE PHOTO - Alice Weidel of the Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) addresses at the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Hamburg’s Regional Court said the U.S. firm faced fines of up to 250,000 euros ($300,000) if it distributed or allowed the distribution of the slur against Weidel, a senior leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, in Germany, according to German media reports.

The decision was not posted on the court’s website, and no one at the court could be reached immediately for comment.

“Facebook had already blocked the commentary in Germany. We will now await the written opinion of the court and consider next steps,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Weidel’s attorney told German magazine Der Spiegel that Facebook had failed to remove the commentary, which was published on the Facebook page of the Huffington Post in September 2017, despite several complaints.

He told the magazine that the commentary remained visible to German Facebook users via foreign proxy servers even after it was taken down in Germany.

A Facebook spokesman had no further comment and said the company would have to study the court’s opinion.

No comment was immediately available from Weidel.

Germany, a leading proponent of tougher regulation of social media, passed a tough law last year to clamp down on online hate speech. Facebook also faces a German anti-trust inquiry over the monetizing of personal data.

Justice minister Katarina Barley also called in Facebook executives last month to discuss allegations that London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user information to build profiles on American voters that were later used to help elect U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by David Stamp

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