Germany's new law can fine Facebook, Twitter up to $57-million for hate speech


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/03/germanys-new-law-can-fine-fa.html


#2

First they came for the nazis, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t a nazi.

Then they came for the racists, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t a racist.

Then they came for the homophobes, but I didn’t care because I wasn’t a homophobe.

Finally, they came for the conservatives, but they didn’t find anybody who they hadn’t already taken away.


#3

Luckily, this sort of law simply cannot be misused. Why, if Trump had an exact same one on the books there is no nefarious purpose to which it might be put.


#4

So forced politeness? I am curious how this will work. Odds are they will just delete everything anyone flags and then half of the posts will just be people accusing others of being narcs, pussies, or snowflakes.

Schneeflocke is at least not that harsh sounding in German.

Except not all conservatives are Nazis, racists, or homophobes.


#5

No, not forced politeness. This “new” approach is sold (remember: campaign time!) as new leverage to enforce the already binding law.

What’s illegal to say (or most likely: write) is not perfectly, but rather well defined in Germany. Codified law still needs interpretation by courts and scholarly comments, but it is rather clear.

The financial sanctioning against the platform which distributes illegal content are an interesting case, because up to now, facebook, twitter and the likes of them tried to weasel out of the problem b that you can safely deny the holocaust did happen in most countries - but not on German soil. This is going to be interesting. AFAIK, both scholars and practitioners of the law seem to agree that simply enforcing the law Germany had so far would have been enough, but disagree on if the platforms did their to make prosecution possible.

I would be surprised if we see a fine being paid soon. This might even be fun.


#6

… that it’ll work a fuckload better than that “an armed society is a polite society” bullshit that’s still being tried despite spectacularly failing


#7

Yeah. No way this will ever be abused. I read a story recently about a Green politician in Austria who had posts describing her as “a traitor to her country” taken down under these laws. I’m a registered green, but that really fucking sucks. I don’t get how Europeans put up with this at all, or how my fellow greens could support someone who has no respect for free speech.


#8

That doesn’t really have anything to do with what we are talking about.

Armed or not, internet interactions don’t involve real life violence directly, so the point is moot.

Didn’t this happen in Turkey and Philippines recently too?


#9

Did she complain or was it someone else? In the UK witnesses can ask the police to treat a crime as a hate crime even if they were otherwise uninvolved, maybe it’s the same in Austria.


#10

In the real world gamergate is a real thing that really happened.

You constantly espouse what is effectively that view of that world. It has everything to do with YOU talking about this.


#11

Needs to be in the USA, like yesterday.


#12

If hitting these companies in the pocket book is the only way to get them to police their users then I am all for it. In practicality, I suppose the companies will try to fight it in court and end up settling for smaller fines.

Can this law be misused? Of course. So can any law. Like any law, I wish it was unnecessary and that people were better than that, but that is not the case. This may not fix the problem and may just be a PR stunt, but it is still better than doing nothing about hate speech.


#13
  • A country where the laws could theoretically be abused into tyranny, but in practise do not appear to be.

vs

  • A country where the laws theoretically prevent tyranny, but in practise do not appear to do so.

I know which one I’d choose. Rights on paper are useless when the ruling class don’t support them.


#14

I don’t believe I’ve ever said here an “Armed society is a polite society”, and if I have, it was done in jest. Nor did I bring it up here.

I said that their policy seems to be a forced politeness. If one can fine Facebook for any forbidden speech, then it behooves Facebook to just delete anything flagged. Period. Best intentions wise, it sounds like an OK idea. But I don’t think people like the ACLU would agree. But this is Germany and their laws are different.

In general, I am pro liberty and anti-authoritarian. As others pointed out, I see this sort of thing ripe for abuse.

Now if FACEBOOK itself wanted to implement this policy as part of their code of conduct for use, then more power to them. No problem with private companies outlining what is and is not acceptable.


#16

Per the article:

“Under the new measure, which takes effect in October, companies have 24 hours to erase illegal content after it is flagged.”

So I don’t know who does the flagging. I assume some government agency. Which makes more business sense - delete anything they tell you to delete, or get a fine? Perhaps they will work with other groups to challenge the law, but assuming the law takes affect they will have to adhere to it. I don’t see Facebook putting up too much of a fight and not delete Uncle Gunter’s rants on Jewish bankers or Syrian refugees.

If it is flagged via a private person, they will need a team of moderators, but again, if it is between allowing it and risk a fine, or deleting it and playing it safe, which makes more business sense to them?

But, again, under the impression the fine was from an official request, which doesn’t sound like something one can just fight.


#17

It wasn’t under these laws because they didn’t exist at the time, haven’t taken effect, and German laws have no jurisdiction in Austria.

They are related in that (for some reason) Europe is particularly sensitive to the effects of hate speech which is why several of its members are progressing legislation to force social media companies to take action against it rather than just make press releases affirming their opposition while doing nothing because their business model is explicitly built on laissez-faire content.

I know it’s a can of worms, for Americans in particular, but hate speech is not speech that should be respected under the umbrella of free speech because its express purpose is to oppress others.


#18

Come now; you know better than that.

Disallowing hate speech does not in anyway equate to forcing people to be ‘polite’ to each other.

It’s perfectly possible to be the very paragon of ‘polite society’ while simultaneously espousing the most toxic of ideas.

Using this forum as an example; there are people here who are never “impolite” per se, but the message they communicate ad nauseum reeks of antisocial and inhumane sentiment… yet nothing ever happens to them because they know how to skirt the rules and stay just below the parameters for moderation.


#19

I was trying to come up with a term gentler than “censorship”.

I didn’t mean suggest that it would force everyone to actually be polite all the time. They just obviously will be censored for some rude things. You’re right people can be jerks and still polite. (IIRC the Southern term is “bless your heart”?)

I’m not the only one narrowing my eyes at this idea. As the article and others stated, it sounds based good intentions, but open to abuse.

I wonder if this article was from China or Iran or Saudi Arabia if it would still seem as benign.


#20

What system isn’t?

The issue, as with all forms of governance, is that the system is only as good as those who use/enforce it.

No solution to any problem is perfect, but just ignoring a problem is never the solution.

O_O

I didn’t say or imply that this idea was ‘benign’; absolute power corrupts - end of story, there is no “tends to” about it.


#21

Ok fair enough. Then I guess we are on a similar page.