A new mandate from German’s parliament called Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz Law, or the Network Enforcement Law, passed last Friday on June 30th, 2017. The law sees a €50 million fine looming over the heads of social media organizations such as Google, YouTube and Facebook if they don’t censor hate speech within 24 hours.
According to Reuters, it would equate to nearly $57 million in USD if either company fails to remove content reported as “hate speech” within 24 hours; fines of up to €5 million could be issued if a representative for the company fails to comply with the request by the NetzDG law. According to Justice Minister Heiko Mass…
“Our experience has shown that unfortunately, social media companies do not improve their procedures without political pressure,”
This is an extreme measure employed by German that takes things a step further than what Google, Facebook and Twitter implemented last year as a means to combat “fake news” and “hate speech”. The companies already vowed to censor hate speech within 24 hours, but now there’s a financial stake on the line if they don’t do so.
Philip DeFranco questioned if this would mean parodies and satire would also fall victim to this? He cited examples such as the PewDiePie jokes that the YouTube content creator made last year that saw him on the receiving end of a smear campaign by the mainstream media.
The U.K., Conservative party proposed a similar measure, where they put together a manifesto of censorship of the internet and its content, all in a bid to “protect the children”. The U.K., however, focused more-so on hate speech deemed as bullying and adult content such as pornography.
Disqus has also implemented measures to curb “hate speech” as well, taking measures to censor users with shadowbanning tools in order to prevent the spread of ideas that they deem harmful.
According to Business Insider, Facebook is surprisingly not on board with this measure by Germany. Facebook had previously made a public statement about the matter, saying…
“It would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies. And several legal experts have assessed the draft law as being against the German constitution and non-compliant with EU law. Facebook is committed to working in partnership with governments and civil society on solutions that will make this draft law unnecessary.”
DeFranco mentioned that Facebook is bringing on 3,000 new hires to comb through content and remove potentially offensive material as they work to comply with the new law.
Earlier this year Facebook global deputy chief privacy officer, Stephen Deadman, mentioned that private companies and the government shouldn’t become censors of the internet…
“We want everybody to be safe. We also want open and free internet with a variety of content. We also don’t want companies to become the [censors] of the internet, or governments for that matter.”
No word yet on if blocking and censoring content will be limited to German IPs or if Facebook and other social media networks would be forced to remove the content for everyone.
Some argue that there’s no real clear line as to what explicitly defines hate speech in some instances, and worry that this new law could be used to squelch legitimate news or censor content that the government doesn’t want people to see.