Act On Fake News, Hate Speech In A Week Or Pay $53 Million Fine: Germany To Facebook, Google
In a welcome step, the German government today approved fines of up to 50 million euros (£43million) against social networking websites that fail to remove illegal content, such as hate speech, extremist material and fake news, posted by users within a week.
Hatred spread over social media
Germany has long pressed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to delete hate speech from their websites more promptly. ‘Hate crimes that are not effectively combatted and prosecuted pose a great danger for the peaceful cohesion of a free, open and democratic society,’ said the government in a statement. The statement said that executives of social media groups also risk individual fines up to five million euros (£4.3million) in cases of non-compliance.
Bill awaits parliamentary approval
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that companies offering such online platforms are responsible for removing hateful content. Maas said: ‘Just like on the streets, there is also no room for criminal incitement on social networks.’ The minister added that measures to combat hate speech and so-called fake news will ultimately have to be taken at the European level to be effective. According to the Dailymail UK, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the bill on Wednesday, but it still needs parliamentary approval. Since the arrival of around one million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015, the volume of xenophobic hate speech has exploded online. Alarmed by the incendiary nature of the posts, the government has repeatedly warned the social network sites to better the policing of the content posted on their platform.
Action taken by different platforms
In a recent report tracking progress on this front, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said not enough was done. Maas said Twitter only took down one per cent and Facebook 39 per cent of the content reported by users deemed to flout Germany’s anti-hate speech laws. Google’s YouTube video sharing platform fared far better, with a rate of 90 per cent according to a government study cited by the minister. Responding to the this Facebook said it was examining the proposed rule, but also stated that more than 700 people will be working on the task force for the company in Berlin by year’s end.
Dailymail reported Justice Minister Maas acknowledged that freedom of expression ‘has huge significance in our democracy’. But he added: ‘Freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins,’ predicting that Germany’s measure would only be a beginning. ‘In the end, we need European solutions for companies that operate across Europe,’ Maas told reporters.
Stringent hate speech rules
Germany already has some of the world’s toughest hate speech laws covering defamation, slander, public incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence backed up by prison sentences for Holocaust denial or inciting hatred against minorities. It now aims to update these rules for the social media age. The issue has taken on more urgency amid concern about the spread of fake news and racist content on social media targeting more than 1 million migrants who arrived in Germany in the last two years, as well as members of the Jewish community.
The Logical Indian appreciates the step taken by German Government and also urges to lawmakers in India to bring a similar type of law considering the amount of fake news on social media. It’s frustrating to see how twisted and manipulated utter lies are being spread on the internet and people are almost forced to believe. It is only inducing the hatred in society and contaminating the young brains. It’s about time we put a stop to it to keep communal harmony.
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