Germany to fine social media sites over hate speech

Germany to fine social media sites over hate speech
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Germany passed a law on Friday that would impose severe fines on social media sites that do not remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours of it being flagged, according to The New York Times.

Fines would start at around $5.7 million and could reach up to $57 million for companies that fail to act on hate speech quickly.

German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas, who first proposed the law, said the rules are “not a limitation, but a prerequisite for freedom of expression.”

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“With this law, we put an end to the verbal law of the jungle on the internet and protect the freedom of expression for all,” Maas said. “We are ensuring that everyone can express their opinion freely, without being insulted or threatened.”

The law, which will only apply to social media sites with more than 2 million users in the country, will go into effect in October.

Germany put out a study earlier this year tracking how social media sites responded to hate speech that is illegal in the country. It found that Facebook managed to remove just 39 percent of flagged posts within 24 hours and Twitter just 1 percent, both falling short of Germany’s 70 percent benchmark.

Content that requires immediate removal includes Holocaust denial, racist speech and Nazi symbols.