Germany: New Year Brings Hefty Speech Fines on Social Networks

The German Parliament to begin fining social networks for not policing their platforms. Image Source: Reuters
The German Parliament to begin fining social networks for not policing their platforms. Image Source: Reuters

Social Networks that fail to remove offensive posts within 24 hours will be fined up to 50 million euros.

With the arrival of 2018, Germany will begin to fine social networks up to to €50 million (roughly $58 million) should they fail to remove posts containing “hate speech” or “obviously illegal” material. They must remove it within 24 hours, or seven days for “complex cases.”

The law, known as the Network Enforcement Act (or NetzDG), went into effect in October, but provided a grace period through the end of 2017.

Although it was met with criticism and concerns over free speech, the law was nevertheless passed in Germany. Which already has some of the world’s toughest laws against defamation and hate crimes.

Prior to the removal of the grace period, it is unclear whether any social networks have complied or failed to comply with the new law. Germany isn’t alone in asking tech companies to take down hate speech posts — the EU has made a similar request.

2018 is only just beginning, and given the trouble Facebook and Twitter have had with hate speech in the past, avoiding such hefty fines may be a challenging task for these companies.

The new law focuses on the responsibility of the social networks to police their platforms. However, individuals who post “objectionable” material will likely face stiff penalties as well. In June, German police raided the homes of 36 people accused of hate speech or other illegal content.

Other European countries have also focused law enforcement resources on social networks and hate speech. Police in the U.K. have been quite busy policing online hate speech. So much so, that they have had to take time and resources away from other crimes like vandalism.

Public faith in the U.K. police force has weakened over recent months. Their focus on “hate speech” and “hate crimes” like “sexism” have earned them the moniker of the PC Police. Image Source: The Sun

Public faith in the U.K. police force has weakened over recent months. Their focus on “hate speech” and “hate crimes” like “sexism” have earned them the moniker of the PC Police. Image Source: The Sun

Many European law enforcement agencies, like the U.K. have devoted substantial resources to “awareness” campaigns as well. Although, speech that is considered “hate speech” appears to be ever expanding. Both the speech crackdowns on social networks and publicity campaigns have drawn substantial criticism at home and abroad.

Source – H/T Cherlynn Low

Author, Advocate, Blogger & Zombie Aficionado. Air Force veteran and jack of all trades, with a wide range of experience with many different cultures around the world as well as working alongside both CEOs and average Joes. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from history to zombies to advocacy to News especially in this day and age of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts.” The Truth Is Out There!

About the Author

Jon Britton
Author, Advocate, Blogger & Zombie Aficionado. Air Force veteran and jack of all trades, with a wide range of experience with many different cultures around the world as well as working alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from history to zombies to advocacy to News especially in this day and age of "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts." The Truth Is Out There!

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