Social media giant Facebook declined to participate in a meeting with two Swedish ministers that addressed the government’s desire for online publishers to combat hate speech and other forms of illegal speech online.
While Facebook declined to participate in the meeting, several other major social media companies like YouTube, Twitter and the Swedish Newspaper Publishers Association (TU) did attend the meeting with Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson and Minister of Digitalization Peter Eriksson Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
Describing the meeting Minister Peter Eriksson said “Basically, we believe that the law needs to be maintained better, for too long of a time, one can say almost anything without being held responsible. They are often not known even to the authorities.”
Following the meeting, which both Eriksson and Johansson described as productive the Minister of Justice said, “I think it was a good start. There has been a very constructive spirit from YouTube and Google.”
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“They say they are going to expand their organization and hire more people to make it easier to get in touch with them. They will also expand cooperation with non-governmental organizations that flag illegal content,” Johansson added.
Eriksson claimed that he had already met with Facebook previously in Dublin saying that Facebook would give the government access to identifying information of posters and added, “It’s important, especially in the electoral campaign, that we do not get negative campaigns where we do not know who is behind them.”
The meeting is part of a broader plan by the Swedish government to combat both hate speech and fake news ahead of the national election later this year.
As part of the initiative, the government granted four mainstream media outlets 13.5 million krona (£1.2 million) for projects to combat fake news online late last year.
There has also been a surge in hate speech prosecutions in the country recently, largely credited to the work of a hate speech reporting group named Näthatsgranskaren which has reported over 800 individuals, many of them older women by the groups own admission, to the Swedish police.