Germany strikes deals with social media giants

16th Dec 2015
Germany strikes deals with social media giants

When does the freedom of speech cross the line? Yesterday, Facebook, Twitter and Google came to an agreement with Germany in which they will remove all hate speech posted on any of their sites within 24 hours – a new step in the struggle against increasing online racism following the refugee crisis, whilst still heavily relying on users reporting other users for posting any hateful tweets/status updates.

The situation has arisen from the fact the government has been trying to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web, as the country is struggling to cope with an increase of more than 1 million refugees this year.

"The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams and the three companies" German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said to a reporter for Reuters, Oliver Ellrodt.

"When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, enticement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net, and we agree that this should be possible within 24 hours." Maas said.

The crisis sparked backlash from far-right social media users and people are criticizing companies for not doing enough to prevent it from appearing. It's also probably worth mentioning that over the weekend, a group of 15-20 people vandalized Facebook headquarters – spray painting "Facebook Dislike" on one of their walls. Tense times!

Is 24 hours a bit ambitious? Will this help keep boundaries or fuel the fire? Only time will tell...

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