Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, says Facebook is not a technology platform, but rather a media company according to Reuters. Maas favors making social media organisations criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.
The German authorities are currently running a program that monitors the efficiency of Facebook in dealing with the removal of hate speech on its site by looking at how many comments are taken down within 24 hours of a complaint.
This decision comes after Facebook has been scrutinized for the way it has dealt with hate speech. The EU specifically wants to address hate speech that corresponds to xenophobia and racism, two issues that have recently been important in Europe. The EU has also set up a ‘code of conduct’ which, though not legally binding, pressures companies like Facebook and Twitter to respond to notifications of hate speech in under 24 hours.
According to the EU commissioner for justice, Vĕra Jourová, one of the main reasons for this new code is the radicalization of “young people” through the use of social media.
If Facebook were to be thought of as a media company and not a “technology platform,” the company could be held legally responsible for failing ro remove hate speech. Recently, Facebook has been criticized due to its questionable decisions concerning the removal of pictures and other controversial material. According to Reuters, though the EU currently does not impose legislation on social media, Germany will move to “take legislative measures if the results are still unsatisfactory” when the data from the program is analyzed.
According to a FORTUNE article published on November 17th, “one big reason is that being defined in such a way could open the network up to regulation, and impose a range of responsibilities on it that it probably wouldn’t like.”