Facebook, Twitter, and Google have agreed with Germany and will delete hate speech from their services within 24 hours to fight a rising tide of online racism.
The flood of refugees into Germany has been tied to a deluge of racist and xenophobic hate-speech on social media that Facebook, for one, had been accused of allowing to linger online.
According to Reuters, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that the agreement should make it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to teams that specialize in the area at the three companies.
Getting it down in one day should be doable, he said:
When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offenses that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net. And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.
Under pressure from Germany, Facebook had already launched a hate-speech task force in September.
In fact, before it even sat down with Maas in September, the company had agreed to do three things in the wake of the previous month’s anti-immigration violence.
Namely, Facebook promised to:
- Partner with FSM, a German self-regulatory group of multimedia service providers.
- Start the hate speech task force, working with nonprofits, companies, and government officials, including Maas.
- Establish a campaign to promote “counter speech” in Germany, drawing in experts from the UK and Scandinavia to develop ways to combat racism and xenophobia through discussions on social media.
In October, a German prosecutor launched an investigation into three Facebook managers for allegedly “ignoring racist posts.”
In November, Germany launched yet another, similar investigation, this one into European head of Facebook Martin Ott, Facebook’s managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe, who’s based in Hamburg.
The prosecution said last month that Ott may be held responsible for his employer’s failure to remove hate speech.
A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the allegations lack merit and that there’s been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.
Twitter, for its part, gave up a separate fight to protect racist users in July, agreeing to unmask posters of racist content on its French service when ordered by a Paris court to hand it over.
Maas told reporters on Tuesday that the deal with the three companies will ensure that the companies adhere to German law when policing hate speech, rather than their own internal policies.
Under German law, anyone who makes a public comment inciting hatred or violence against someone on ethnic or religious grounds can face up to three years in prison.
A Google spokesperson told Tech Crunch that the company’s on board with Germany’s approach to hate speech:
We’re committed to working with Governments on this issue and work to review the majority of flagged content within 24 hours. YouTube’s policies have long prohibited hate speech and extremism, and we comply quickly with valid law enforcement requests.
Image of hate on keyboard courtesy of Shutterstock.com
13 comments on “Facebook, Google and Twitter agree to German demand to delete hate speech within 24 hours”
Who polices the policers? Is this going to be enforced political conformism (PC) masquerading as law enforcement? Since when have NGO’s, Facebook, Google, Twitter et al become experienced law experts and law enforcement professionals? And ‘counter speech’ on social media, organised by global corporate dictatorships in collaboration with global corporate governments? George Orwell, thou shoudst be living at this dark hour in Europe’s history. There was a German/Franco axis between 1939 – 1945. Now it’s a global axis of the same anti-democratic, totalitarian nature – and we, the people, have not voted for any of it. Pause and think. This is political, nothing else. When dictators are losing the argument, they close it down. Take a bow, Germany, France, UK, Scandinavia, Facebook, Google and Twitter et al.
PS Immigrants should never be criticised for coming to Germany and the rest of Europe in unlimited quantities. They were explicitly invited to do so in unlimited numbers by none other than Angela Merkel herself, Chancellor of Germany.. And it is Angela Merkel and her government ministers who are getting universally criticised, which is why it is Angela Merkel and her government ministers who are busy clamping down on full debate, and/or employing professional propagandists from Britain and Scandinavia to take it over for them. We live in interesting times.
This could be the death of some social media. Never say anything not nice or it gets deleted,, nobody will ever tell you your opinion is wrong because you can’t say anything wrong. Governments will all smell like flowers now because anything you say anything about corruption, abuse, criminal activity, lies or it will be deemed hate, and you will be blocked.
Time for a new social media, that has no “political” manipulation.
It is interesting that Mikhail Gorbachev said:
“The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”
Censorship plain and simple. Shutting down one side from voicing their feelings actually creates hate by eliminating the opportunity to vent those feelings. Of course, the world is forced to accept refugees because why???? Because those on the Left want it so, and anyone opposed is a denier and a liar and a hater. Terrible times we live in.
There is a vast difference, surely, between having an opinion about immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and being hateful towards or about them?
We are human: We love; We hate. There should be a healthy balance, not a one sided dialogue. I can understand FB disabling/deleting someone’s access when he or she does not follow the terms of service, but deleting (or quietly hiding) individual posts based on the feelings expressed dilutes the platform and feels wrong. Threats are something which should be both against the FB ToS as well as reviewed for intent (possibly by LE), but a statement of one’s feelings should be allowed, even if those statements are bigoted or disagree with another’s beliefs.
A healthy balance of hate to counter the love? Are you serious?
Surely there is, Mark. But who decides what is which and which is what? There’s a vast sea of gray between good and evil, and this gives *someone* the power to draw the line wherever they see fit.
“Isn’t it likely that the influx of large numbers of Muslims, with their languages, social structures and traditions that differ from those of traditional Europe is a recipe for disruption?”
Who is to decide if that constitutes a legitimate political expression or if it constitutes “hate speech?”
The more the authorities try to keep the lid on the boiling pot the greater will be the bank when it finally flies off.
Just by claiming a need for this action they confess to their own mistakes which they wish to keep hidden.
For so long hate speech has been veneered under a thick layer of one’s “opinion”. Enough is enough.
Every cretin votes his “opinion” innocuous. No! When you clamor about how people should be drown and shot on sight, you are spewing hate. Go read some comments online and quit with the chest beating. Get a life. Your low life opinions were vomited back in 20’s and 30’s with disastrous outcome, and you don’t even notice it, because there was no one to smack you in the head for your moral shortcomings.
What you just vomited out was hate speech. People like you should be banned. How did that feel?
There isn’t a way to “quantify” the hate speech probably. But you know what it looks like. You’ve seen it if its not directed at you, and when it possibility is directed at you. So its going to get deleted.