November 26, 2020

Germany: Cabinet Approves Bill That Fines Social Media Providers For Not Rapidly Removing Hate Speech

From the AP: 

Germany’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new bill that punishes social networking sites if they fail to swiftly remove illegal content such as hate speech or defamatory fake news.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet agreed on rules that would impose fines of up to 50 million euros (53.4 million dollars) on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that the companies offering such online platforms are responsible for removing hateful content. He said the new bill would not restrict the freedom of expression, but intervene only when criminal hatred or intentionally false news are posted.

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The bill still needs parliamentary approval.

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From Reuters:

“There should be just as little tolerance for criminal rabble rousing on social networks as on the street,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement, adding that he would seek to push for similar rules at a European level.

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To address free speech concerns, the legislation was tweaked to make clear that a fine would not necessarily be imposed after just one breach of the law. “It is clear that freedom of expression is of huge importance in our vibrant democracy … however, freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins,” Maas said. Maas said a government survey showed Facebook deleted just 39 percent of content deemed criminal and Twitter only 1 percent, even though they signed a code of conduct in late 2015 including a pledge to delete hate speech within 24 hours.

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See Also: Statement From Freedom House

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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