Merkel Zuckerberg
Angela Merkel and Mark Zuckerberg meet in 2011. Germany's political leader wants Facebook to do more to tackle online racism  Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was overheard challenging Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on what the social media giant was doing to stamp out racist posts during a United Nations summit. With a microphone accidentally left on during the live stream of a luncheon in New York, Merkel asked Zuckerberg about hate speech posts.

"We need to do some work," said Facebook's chief executive.

"Are you working on this?" Merkel pressed him. "Yes," replied Zuckerberg.

The comments come after German Justice Minister Heiko Maas met Facebook representatives earlier this month to discuss what the company could do to prevent far-right groups posting racist and inflammatory comments about the refugees entering the country. Far-right groups are also believed to use social media to plan arson attacks on refugee centres.

Merkel has previously criticised Facebook for being quick to take down pictures considered indecent while failing to uphold its policy on hate speech.

"When people stir up sedition on social networks using their real name, it's not only the state that has to act, but also Facebook as a company should do something against these paroles," Merkel told regional newspaper Rheinische Post.

Pledge for universal internet access

At the summit, Zuckerberg also announced a pledge with Bill and Melinda Gates to bring internet access to everyone in the world by 2020.

"When people have access to the tools and knowledge of the Internet, they have access to opportunities that make life better for all of us," they announced in a joint declaration. "The Internet belongs to everyone. It should be accessible by anyone," the statement added.

Zuckerberg added that for every 10 people connected to the internet, one is lifted from poverty. He described the Internet as "the key driver of social and economic progress in our time," saying that it provided "the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding."