Germany Proposes to Fine Companies for Illegal Content

Hate-speechThe German government wants to fine Google, Facebook, and other social media sites if they don't remove "hate speech, fake news and other undesirable content" within 24 hours if it's considered "blatantly illegal" and within seven days if it's otherwise considered to be breaking the law.

A Politico article describes the decision:

"Facebook and Twitter missed the chance to improve their takedown practices," said Heiko Maas, federal minister for justice and consumer protection. Maas claimed social media networks don't take complaints seriously. "For companies to take on their responsibility in question of deleting criminal content, we need legal regulations."

According to one study, Facebook removed 33% of illegal posts within 24 hours so far this year-not enough for some critics-and Twitter did worse, removing only 1% within 24 hours. The social media companies argue that policing negative activity is nearly impossible given the volume of posts on their sites.

In Twitter's defense (it needs one), the company has published extensive policies, including those related to "Hateful Conduct." But bullying, threats of violence, and other misconduct have been an issue for Twitter since the beginning and continue to plague the site's credibility.

In related hate-speech news, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and other big companies are pulling ads on YouTube because they don't want them appearing next to inappropriate content. This is another, perhaps more effective, way to get the social media sites to take action.

Image source.


  • What's your view of Germany's proposed law: reasonable, necessary, unrealistic, or something else?
  • What effect do you think such a law would have on the social media sites? How about its users?