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Germany Takes Action Against Hate Speech Across Social Media

Users of social media platforms have really started to lose faith in social media platforms. The country of Germany is taking serious action against bullies on social media. They have implemented a new law that regulates social media platforms, ensuring that hate speech has been removed after receiving notice in a set period of time. The country already has tight regulations in place that forbid posting content related to Neo-Nazi propaganda, swastikas, and denial of the Holocaust. NetzDg is the name of the new law in reference which translates to “Enforcement on Social Networks.”

Basically, for straight forward obvious cases you will see a removal within 24 hours and for more complex situations 7 days. Go Germany!

Futhermore, the social media platforms can expect to be fined up to 50 Million Euro (57 Million Dollars) if they fail to comply within the given time period. The main platforms under watch are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, Snapchat, and Instagram however government agencies are looking to expand the law to Reddit, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, VK, and Gab. The law was passed in June 2017, going into action in October however legislators gave social media platforms a grace period of three months to integrate to monitoring systems and hire additional staff in addition to the contact person legislators require each platform to appoint from the country for complaints.

When the law was proposed, justice minister Heiko Maas said: “Freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins.” Seriously, this is great! Hate speech includes racial slurs and religious violence, however the executive body of the law seems to package different types of hate speeches into the same category. Critics claim that social media platforms will then create algorithms to hide these posts instead of human mediation.

According to Gizmodo, “Google has also created an online form to report content, while Twitter has added an option to its existing report function that specifies ‘comes under the NetzDG.’ Facebook has set up a more complex system, independent of its reporting options, which requires users to find a special page, take a screenshot of the offending post, and choose one of 20 offenses that the post is allegedly committing. People do not have to be registered users of the network to report content.”

Also those opposed to the law of NetzDG say it will promote social media platforms to provide censorship to controversial speech in addition to the hate speech in order to reduce their risk of being fined. Controversial content and Hate content are entirely different concepts in which controversial content, even though all may not agree, still complies with the right to freedom of speech or expression. Hopefully this is not the case because otherwise our cyber world will take a very bias stance toward content and that hardly sounds exciting.