Germany up in arms against hate speeches on social media, implements new law

facebook update
The Facebook logo is pictured at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California 29 January 2013 Robert Galbraith/Reuters

A new German law that demands social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube delete posts containing hate speeches, fake new and illegal material within 24 hours of receiving a complaint has come into effect with the New Year, media reported.

The new rules could fine social media sites up to $60 million if they do not remove posts containing hate speech quickly, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported this week.

The Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law was passed at the end of June 2017 and came into force in early October, but social networks were given a three-month grace period to install the new complaint management systems.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram will all come under the new law, though professional networks like LinkedIn and Xing are expressly excluded, as are messaging services like WhatsApp, the report said.

The new law also requires the affected companies to produce a yearly report detailing how many posts they deleted and why.

People can report violations to Germany's Federal Office of Justice (BfJ), which has made an online form available for the purpose.

Google has also created an online form to report content, while Twitter has added an option to its existing report function that specifies "comes under the NetzDG."

Facebook has also put in place its own system to help people report offending posts.

The call to police social media sites more effectively arose after several high-profile cases in which fake news and racist material was being spread via the German arms of prominent social media firms, a BBC report said.