dglobalnews.com Germany threatens Facebook, Twitter with hate speech fines
Published: Thu, April 06, 2017
Markets | By Armando Jensen

Germany threatens Facebook, Twitter with hate speech fines

Germany threatens Facebook, Twitter with hate speech fines

Earlier, Maas admitted that an attempt to make social networks remove offensive content on a voluntary basis "has failed", as he explained the necessity for the new measures, German media report.

Germany poses a particular problem for US -owned social networking sites accustomed to American standards of free speech.

Others, however, worry that the new laws will limit freedom of speech even further in a country that already has strict laws against defamation, public incitement to commit crimes, and threats of violence - including handing out long prison terms for denying the Holocaust and inciting hatred against minorities. He added that he now plans to present these rules to the European Council of Justice to create regional rules.

"Children do not belong in the marriage registry office or the wedding hall", said Justice Minister Heiko Maas in a statement sent to AFP.

Under the proposed legislation, which was unveiled last month, social media companies could face $53 million fines if they fail to remove hate speech, libel or other content in breach of German laws. Facebook rejected Mass's data, citing its own data that shows it removes about 65 percent of illegal content within a day.

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Bitkom, an association that represents digital companies, said the government should build up specialist teams to monitor online content for potential infringements, rather than expect social networks to do it themselves.

Failure to comply with the law expected to be passed before elections in September could see a company fined up to 50 million euros, and the company's chief representative in Germany fined up to 5 million euros. "However, freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins".

However, German officials said the companies are failing to meet the target. The legislation, which must be discussed by the German Parliament, argues that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 years, considered the stage of optimum age in much of Western cultures. In 2015 it got Facebook, Google, and Twitter to agree to remove hate speech from their platforms within 24 hours.

"This will set binding standards for how companies running social networks must handle complaints and require them to delete criminal content", Maas said.

Twitter didn't immediately comment on the announcement.

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