In a move that has sent chills through free speech advocates and human rights groups, The German governments have passed a law that will fine social media companies up to $57 million of they do not remove hateful posts.
Companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter will have 24 hours to remove content that has been flagged as hate speech. If they do not, they will be fined $5.7 million for starters and the fines only go up from there.
They will have an additional seven days to comb through all other messages that have been flagged as offensive, but not necessarily illegal under the new law.
This law is seen as a test case in an effort to fight back against those purveyors of “fake news” and online hate-mongers.
However, many free speech advocates fell that this law will stifle free expression on the Internet.
Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, has admitted that while the law does not solve the problem of online hate speech it is a step in the right direction. This law is one of the toughest stances against offensive social media posts in the world.
According to their own statistics, Maas said that hate crimes in Germany have risen more than 300 percent in the last two years.
For their part, Facebook has come out against this law. In a statement, the company said that this law “will not improve” the effort to stop this type of posts.
This law has many digital freedom rights groups worried. One such group, European Digital Rights, says that this law could “seriously impair” online human rights. The Brussels-based organization has criticized the European Union for not challenging this law.
There is also opposition to this law inside Germany as well. Both the Left Party and the alt-right Alternative for Germany have both come out in opposition to the law. The far-right group has said that they may challenge the law in court.