Germany proposes hefty hate speech fines for social media companies

Germany proposes hefty hate speech fines for social media companies
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A proposed hate speech law in Germany could lead to millions of dollars in fines for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

According to The New York Times, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced a proposal that would impose hefty fines on platforms that are not aggressively policing users' hate speech.

“We must increase the pressure on social networks,” Maas said in a statement.

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“This will set binding standards for how companies running social networks must handle complaints and require them to delete criminal content.”

Under the law, companies could face up to 50 million euros — or $53 million — in fines for not responding quickly to complaints of hate speech.

A study published on Tuesday found that Facebook and Twitter are falling short of Germany’s benchmark that companies should remove 70 percent of hate speech within 24 hours of discovering the content.

According to the study, which was conducted by the German government, Facebook is deleting 39 percent of the flagged content, while Twitter managed just 1 percent.

“We have clear rules against hate speech and work hard to keep it off our platform," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We are committed to working with the government and our partners to address this societal issue. By the end of the year over 700 people will be working on content review for Facebook in Berlin. We will look into the legislative proposal by the Federal Ministry of Justice."

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, but referenced recent changes the company had made to crack down on abusive accounts and make it easier for users to control the type of content that they see.

- Updated at 1:56 p.m.