Social media sites face heavy hate speech fines under German proposal

Justice minister Heiko Maas, a critic of Facebook’s regulation efforts, says plan could result in penalties of up to €50m

Germany’s justice minister has proposed a law that could lead to social networks such as Facebook being hit with heavy fines if they fail to remove illegal hate speech from their sites.

Heiko Maas, who has been highly critical of Facebook’s efforts to clamp down on outlawed racist and xenophobic posts, said on Tuesday the new measures could carry penalties of up to €50m (£44m).

He noted the draft law, which will require the approval of Angela Merkel’s cabinet and then parliament, followed several months in which companies had been allowed to take voluntary measures.

“These have proved insufficient, and [the posts] are not being deleted quickly enough,” Maas told reporters, citing data provided by the internet watchdog jugendschutz.net.

A surge of hate speech on Facebook and other social media sites in Germany has raised the political heat on companies, with a general election taking place in September.

Facebook and others pledged in 2015 to examine and remove within 24 hours any hateful comments spreading online, in particular over the mass influx of migrants and refugees. But Maas said on Tuesday that “networks aren’t taking the complaints of their own users seriously enough”.

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Source By https://www.theguardian.com

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