The German government has announced new plans to force social media sites to delete hate speech and fake news. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Facebook and Twitter had failed to regulate themselves. The new measures come two years after Maas’ department created a task force to crack down on “illegal hate speech on the internet,” which initially attempted to collaborate with Facebook and Twitter to get them to regulate content.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas revealed details of a new plan to curb hate speech and fake news on social media sites. The new law will force social networks to publish a quarterly accountability report, which will include information on the number and qualifications of employees responsible for deleting and blocking content that breaches Germany’s hate speech and slander laws.
Social networks will also be obliged to offer users “an easily recognizable, directly reachable, and constantly available” complaint process for “prosecutable content,” which includes libel, slander, defamation, incitement to commit a crime, hate speech against a particular social group, and threats.
The social media companies will then immediately have to check the complaints and delete all illegal content within seven days – while any content deemed “obviously illegal” must be deleted within 24 hours. The complainant must be also informed of the result of their complaint.
Violating these regulations could lead to a fine of up to 5 million euros ($5.3 million) for the individual employee responsible for the complaint procedure, and up to 50 million euros for the company itself, according to the bill drafted by the Justice.