* European campaigners seek new laws against "trolling"
* Court says hate posts must be deleted across the platform
* Says Facebook should be able to automate process
By Shadia Nasralla
VIENNA, May 8 Facebook must remove
postings deemed as hate speech, an Austrian court has ruled, in
a legal victory for campaigners who want to force social media
companies to combat online "trolling".
The case - brought by Austria's Green party over insults to
its leader - has international ramifications as the court ruled
the postings must be deleted across the platform and not just in
Austria, a point that had been left open in an initial ruling.
The case comes as legislators around Europe are considering
ways of forcing Facebook, Google, Twitter and
others to rapidly remove hate speech or incitement to violence.
Germany's cabinet approved a plan last month to fine social
networks up to 50 million euros ($55 million) if they fail to
remove such postings quickly and the European Union
is considering new EU-wide rules.
Facebook's lawyers in Vienna declined to comment on the
ruling, which was distributed by the Greens and confirmed by a
court spokesman, and Facebook did not immediately reply to a
request for comment.
Strengthening the earlier ruling, the Viennese appeals court
ruled on Friday that Facebook must remove the postings against
Greens leader Eva Glawischnig as well as any verbatim
repostings, and said merely blocking them in Austria without
deleting them for users abroad was not sufficient.
The court added it was easy for Facebook to automate this
process. It said, however, that Facebook could not be expected
to trawl through content to find posts that are similar, rather
than identical, to ones already identified as hate speech.
The Greens hope to get the ruling strengthened further at
Austria's highest court. They want the court to demand Facebook
remove similar - not only identical - postings, and to make it
identify holders of fake accounts.
The Greens also want Facebook to pay damages, which would
make it easier for individuals in similar cases to take the
financial risk of taking legal action.
"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.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said hate speech has no
place on the platform and the company has published a policy
paper on how it wants to work against false news.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)