IN MY OPINION
Besides fake news, hate speech is the second big problem in social media.
It has been long-time over-due, but fi-nally Ger-man lawmakers have approved a controversial law that would impose high fines on social media companies like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for failing to swiftly delete posts deemed to exhibit hate speech.
Under the new legis-lation, social media com-panies have 24 hours to remove posts that ob-viously violate German law and have been re-ported by other users. In cases that are more ambiguous, Facebook and other sites have seven days to deal with the offending post. If they don’t comply with the new legislation, the companies could face a fine of up to 50 million Euro ($57.1 million).
The law was passed with votes from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – Social Democratic Party (SPD) government coalition. The Left Party in the Bun-destag voted against it, while members of the Greens abstained.
The new rules are supposed to drastically reduce the number of posts containing hate speech, fake news and terror propaganda on social media. In January and February 2017, Youtube deleted 90 percent of hate speech videos reported by users – but Twitter only deleted one percent. Facebook did a little better at 39 percent.
Skeptics criticize, however, that under the new rules social media managers are the ones who have to decide whether content complies with German law. They also worry that freedom of speech will suffer since, in their opinion, companies are likely to delete many posts just to be on the safe side and avoid fines.
It’s in-deed a Land-mark legisla-tion in Eu-rope and should be adopted worldwide.
In addition to the strict new rules about deletion, the law forces networks to reveal the identity of those behind the hateful posts and to offer users “an easily recognizable, di-rectly reachable, and cons-tantly available” complaint process for “prosecutable content,” which includes libel, slander, defamation, incitement to commit a crime, hate speech against a particular social group, and threats.
Germany is the first country in Europe to introduce such clear legal guidelines against online hate speech.
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