New year, new meme. While it may seem difficult to actually get social networks like Facebook and Twitter to delete content that is hurtful, the German government enacted a law on January 1 that will see the sites face hefty fines if they don’t remove hateful posts in due time.
While women in North America are being banned on Facebook for calling men “scum” as a form of activism, the German government’s new law, known as Network Enforcement Act (NetzGD), requires sites to delete hurtful content within 24 hours or face fines up to $60 million USD.
Although Facebook already has a reporting system in place for hurtful language and content, ProPublica independently researched the social platform’s speech monitoring system and found it spotty at best. ProPublica reported that of the 49 posts they investigated, Facebook handled 22 of the hate speech reports incorrectly, allowing these instances of hateful speech to stay on the site.
In the UK, Facebook has been under scrutiny in recent months for its refusal to ban “Britain First,” a white supremacist organization operating in England and throughout the UK, while Twitter has banned or suspended known members of the group. Stateside, the company has been even less able to manage hate and wrongfully banning anti-racist actions like their removal of an ad for a march being held against an already active white supremacist group on the site.
The German government says that sharing hate speech, encouraging violence, and spreading propaganda are against the law, and these rules apply to any social media site with over 2 million users operating globally. While sites like YouTube are already removing content regardless of content so long as it has been uploaded by a supremacist, the way that sites like Facebook operate may mean fines from operating practices in the European nation.
Although it’s hard to say how the German law will affect users around the world, a spokesperson for Facebook told Refinery29 in a statement that their goals of ending hate speech are the same as those of the German government.
“In compliance with NetzDG we have put in place a reporting process which is separate from our Community Standards reporting,” the statement reads. “In doing so, we aim to be transparent and make it possible for all people — regardless of whether they are registered on our platform or not — to report content in accordance with the NetzDG.”
What do you think of Facebook’s track record on hate speech? Tell us @BritandCo!
(photos via Getty)