Skip to main site content.
Laura Boldrini (Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Media matters

Leading Italian politician accuses Facebook of encouraging hate speech by allowing fake news

February 15, 2017

The president of the Italian parliament’s lower house, Laura Boldrini, has published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that accuses him of failing to do enough to curtail the spread of fake news on the social media site – a failure that Boldrini claims has effectively created safe bastions for hate speech.

“I strongly believe that fake news … is harmful for people and is often the antechamber of hate speech,” wrote Boldrini.

After sharing rape threats made against her by other Facebook users last November, Boldrini said she was approached by Facebook vice president in charge of public policy for Europe, Richard Allan. Two months after Boldrini said she proposed possible measures to Allan about more swiftly curtailing hate-speech on the social media platform, Boldrini wrote that she had decided to press the company in an open letter so that they would stop responding to her inquiries with “evasive and generic responses.”

Boldrini, who launched an official campaign against fake news last week, has also accused Facebook of providing too “little cooperation” with Italian authorities compared to countries such as Germany and France. In Germany, lawmakers are reportedly considering a bill that would fine Facebook more than $500,000 for each item of hate speech that stays on the social network for longer than 24 hours.

In comments made to Quartz, a Facebook spokesperson said that Boldrini’s proposals were “worthy of attention” and had been shared with the company’s “highest corporate levels.”

“Neither companies, nor politicians or the civil society can tackle these challenges by themselves,” said the spokesperson. “We welcome our close ongoing dialogue with President Boldrini.”

Read the full story at Quartz.


Women condemn social media response to mass molestation in India

3 men arrested in Sweden after allegedly streaming a group rape on Facebook

Women more likely than men to use misogynistic language while insulting women on Twitter

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Facebook’s head of public policy in Europe. He is Richard Allan, not Richard Allen.