December 16, 2015
Google, Facebook and Twitter have reached an agreement with Germany in which hate speech will be removed from their sites within 24 hours of it being reported.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the BBC the deals forged with the three tech companies would make certain German law was being followed online.
Social networks cannot “become a funfair for the far right,” he told the BBC.
“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” he added. “And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”
The agreement with the three social networks comes after a few months of talks with each company on cracking down on racist comments. Such posts have increased since Germany announced it would take in up to one million migrants and refugees in 2015. The influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has angered nationalists, in particular neo-Nazi groups.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September called upon social networks to crackdown on racist comments and singled out Facebook, saying even though it has a strict code of conduct in place, it was not doing enough to enforce it.
German Facebook policy manager Eva-Maria Kirschsieper said the social network was doing its best to police inappropriate posts.
“The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than one billion people,” Kirschsieper said in a statement at the time. “It is a constant challenge to balance the interests of this diverse population and we are always looking for ways to make our policies and processes more effective and sensitive to the concerns of local communities.”
Not long after, in mid-September, Maas told a press conference his ministry was setting up a task force with Facebook as well as other social networks and Internet service providers to pinpoint and remove hate speech and racist posts more quickly.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.