Germany May Fine Facebook Over Hate Speech

German officials have criticized Facebook, accusing them of doing too little to stop the hate speech and Facebook could face stiff fines unless it deletes the illegal content at a faster pace.

Germany has seen a sharp increase in negative and attacking posts on social media recently due to the highly controversial and internationally public debate over the influx of more than a million migrants since the start of 2015.

German Justice, Minister Heiko Maas, said his ministry was “checking whether it would be possible to make social networking sites legally liable for illegal posts.”

Germany has laws against speech that could be considered racist, defamatory or that incites violence. The laws were created in response to Germany’s Nazi legacy.

Facebook has said it takes the issue seriously and has hundreds of contractors assigned to review the posts at their Berlin office.

However, Sueddeutsche Zeitung , the largest newspaper in Germany, reported, “that staff members there complain of inconsistent rules and overwork.”

According to the AP, “Thomas Oppermann, a senior lawmaker in Maas’ Social Democratic Party, told German weekly Der Spiegel that dominant social media sites like Facebook could be required to delete illegal posts within 24 hours or face fines up to 500,000 euros ($522,000).”

“Facebook could also be compelled to distribute corrections that will reach the same number of people as the original post,” Oppermann stated, which is something traditional media companies in Germany are already required to do.

These possible sanctions and fines against Facebook come just as German officials warn that the country’s upcoming general election is likely to be seriously affected by the massive amounts of hate speech and fake news presently appearing all over social media.

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