Germany to penalize social media platforms that fail to delete hate speech

STEFANIE LOOS / POOL

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrives for a visit at the Facebook office in Berlin, Germany, 29 August 2016.

Germany to penalize social media platforms that fail to delete hate speech


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German MPs approved a law that will penalize social media platforms that fail to delete hate speech posts.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube could soon be fined if they fail to delete hate-posts within 24 hours. Failure to comply could result in a €50 million fine.

The bill passed with the votes of the two current coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), while the Left Party voted against and the Greens abstained.

The most effective social media platform is YouTube that deleted 90% of hate posts since January 2017, while Twitter only 1%. Facebook is in the middle with a 39% track record. Companies can refer posts to an outside regulator if they are unsure of the nature of the post.

Of equal significance, there will no longer be posts by unidentified individuals in Germany, as all social media platforms will be obliged to reveal the identity of their users.

Skeptics fear that imposing speedy deletion of hate posts could curtail freedom of speech, as companies will err on the side of restrictions to avoid fines, DW reports. The parliament must now also move to define the limits of acceptable language, which will prove even more controversial.

Facebook is accusing the German government of trying to pass on the state responsibility to identify illegal content, be it hate speech, propaganda, or fake news. The company also warns that Germany is taking a national path that sets it apart from other markets. Advocates of the new bill argue that it could force social media platforms, predominantly Facebook, to hire and pay more moderators, increasing the quality of its monitoring.

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