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Germany cracks down on social media hate speech

Germany has enacted a new law to regulate social media platforms in ensuring hate speech be removed following reported complaints.

Das Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz

Abbreviated as NetzDG, the new law aims to remove hateful comments within a 24-hour period for straight forward issues, or within seven days for more complicated content.

Translated to “Enforcement of Social Networks” the new law can issue fines as high as €50 million to social media platforms failing to comply within the appropriate timeframe.

A transition period has been allowed for companies to adapt to the new policy, giving social media juggernauts until 1 January 2018 to get new protocols in order.

Not just for the big guys

According to Spiegel Online, the German government isn’t simply looking to target Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but forum sites including Flickr, Gab, Reddit, and Tumblr.

Officially, German social platforms with more than two million registered users must comply with NetzDG guidelines. However, smaller platforms must still have a designated contact person for complaints, with queries to be answered within a 48-hour period.

The UK has also been active in curtailing derogatory or inflammatory speech online and the European Commission put out new guidelines on the pro-active removal of illegal content.

The new initiative to make forums a safer place is excellent on paper but may prove a slippery slope.

With stronger liability and larger fines, companies could become overzealous in pre-emptively removing content that may not quite fit the criteria. Users will have to wait and see.

What do you think about the new legislation? Does NetzDG sound progressive to you? Give us your opinion in the comment section below.

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