Germany Recreates a 1984 Nazi State
- The ruling German Conservative party is forcing businesses to scrub clean (memory hole) all thoughts that are not approved by Big Brother.
(New York Times) - Social media companies operating in Germany face fines of as much as $57 million if they do not delete illegal, racist or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours under a law passed on Friday.
The law reinforces Germany’s position as one of the most aggressive countries in the Western world at forcing companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to crack down on hate speech and other extremist messaging on their digital platforms.
But the new rules have also raised questions about freedom of expression. Digital and human rights groups, as well as the companies themselves, opposed the law on the grounds that it placed limits on individuals’ right to free expression.
Germany witnessed an increase in racist comments and anti-immigrant language after the arrival of more than a million migrants, predominantly from Muslim countries, since 2015, and Heiko Maas, the justice minister who drew up the draft legislation, said on Friday that it ensured that rules that currently apply offline would be equally enforceable in the digital sphere.
. . . . companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, to remove any content that is illegal in Germany . . . within 24 hours of it being brought to their attention.
A study published this year found that Facebook and Twitter had failed to meet a national target of removing 70 percent of online hate speech within 24 hours of being alerted to its presence.
The report noted that while the two companies eventually erased almost all of the illegal hate speech, Facebook managed to remove only 39 percent within 24 hours, as demanded by the German authorities. Twitter met that deadline in 1 percent of instances. YouTube fared significantly better, removing 90 percent of flagged content within a day of being notified.
Facebook said on Friday that the company shared the German government’s goal of fighting hate speech and had “been working hard” to resolve the issue of illegal content. The company announced in May that it would nearly double, to 7,500, the number of employees worldwide devoted to clearing its site of flagged postings.
Even in the United States, Facebook and Google also have taken steps to limit the spread of extremist messaging online, and to prevent “fake news” from circulating. That includes using artificial intelligence to remove potentially extremist material automatically and banning news sites believed to spread fake or misleading reports from making money through the companies’ digital advertising platforms.
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