Germany kicks new year off with strict online hate speech law – CNET


In Germany, if you’ve reported an offensive post on social media and noticed it hasn’t been taken down after 24 hours, the company has to bear a hefty fine.


In Germany, social media companies were perhaps dreading the fireworks marking the start of the new year.

On Jan. 1, the country began enforcing strict rules that could see platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being fined up to €5 million (about $6 million) if they don’t remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, BBC reported Monday.

The new hate speech rules, passed last June, require companies to maintain an “effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints” that users can access readily at anytime. Upon receiving a complaint, social media companies have to remove or block “obviously illegal content” within 24 hours, although they have up to a week when dealing with “complex cases.”

Social media companies haven’t been viewed too favourably in many countries due to the massive volume of hate content on their platforms. To fight that, Facebook in June said it removes 66,000 posts every week, saying it wants to do better but admitting the task is not easy. Last month, Twitter escalated its fight against hate, enforcing an updated policy that bans users from promoting violence and hate in their usernames and bios, and threatening to remove accounts if users tweeted hate speech, symbols and images.

German isn’t the only country that wants social media companies to do more about hate speech. While the European Union acknowledged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft for being better at the job, it said it managed to block twice the volume of hate content at a faster rate than those companies did in the beginning of the year. 

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