Socitm blog

Germany moves against online hate

Online hate speech fans in Germany are facing a crisis, as new laws set to combat the appalling activity have come into effect.

Henceforth, social media networks could be hit with massive fines of up to £44.3 million if things like inciteful content and fake news aren’t scrubbed from their digital walls within 24 hours.

The [insane German word warning] Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz law polices sites that have over two million users, so the usual newsworthy suspects will be its main focus (I would have thought a few £44.3m fines will make even Facebook pull its socks up).

The German justice ministry is encouraging net users to make use of a form on its website to report violations, including grassing up networks that have failed to take action within the 24-hour grace period.

A hopeful start to the year? Online hatred, intimidation, terror, fake news and all the rest dominated headlines throughout 2017, no doubt leading some to reason that perhaps it’d be best to switch the internet off and go back to whatever it was we did before it came along.

And in the UK? Various politicians, including the prime minister, addressed the issue throughout the past year – but the no doubt well-intentioned proclamations mostly seemed half-baked and sketchy. Home secretary Amber Rudd even said she was going ‘to get Google to take sites down’, whatever that was supposed to mean.

But let’s wait and see. Perhaps a coherent strategy to deal with the tsunami of online sewerage and outrage will emerge, and 2018 will be remembered as the year that basic decency asked for its internet back.