— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) July 17, 2017
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“It’s Orwellian. Anyone who has read 1984 sees its very re-enactment live.”
The writing has been on the wall for months, but German lawmakers have now passed a controversial law under which Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies could face fines of up to €50 million ($57 million) for failing to remove hate speech.
As AP reports, the measure approved is designed to enforce the country’s existing limits on speech, including the long-standing ban on Holocaust denial. Among other things, it would fine social networking sites if they persistently fail to remove illegal content within a week, including defamatory “fake news.”
“Freedom of speech ends where the criminal law begins,” said Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who was the driving force behind the bill.
- If Facebook insists on the rules of censorship, it should at the very least administer those rules in a fair way. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness.
- Posts critical of Chancellor Merkel’s migrant policies, for example, can be categorized as “Islamophobia”, and are often found to violate “Community Standards”, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s “Community Standards”.
- Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews — despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and murder of Jews.
Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the “code of conduct”, which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete “hate speech” from their websites within 24 hours.
With Facebook having announced last week the launch of measure to flag and eliminate fake news from appearing on its website, Germany does not think the process is fast enough, and according to Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas, German judges and state prosecutors need to crack down straight away on fake news disseminated through social media platforms such as Facebook. Interviewed by Bild am Sontag, Maas, a Social Democrat in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, has repeatedly warned the U.S. technology company to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are more rigid than in the United States and added that the newspaper the principle of free speech does not protect against slander.
“Defamation and malicious gossip are not covered under freedom of speech,” Maas said cited by Reuters, just days after other top government officials called for legislation to tackle “hate speech” and fake news on Facebook and other social media platforms. He added that the government is keeping close tabs on how efficiently Facebook removes illegal content. If removal rates fail to grow, “urgent legal consequences” could follow.Urging a criminal crackdown, the Justice Minister said “authorities must prosecute [hate speech], even on the internet,” noting that offenders could face up to five years in jail. “Anyone who tries to manipulate the political discussion with lies needs to be aware (of the consequences).”
“We expect significant improvements in Facebook’s removal practice. The standard for removals must be German law,” Maas told Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday.
Heiko Maas, the German Minister of Justice, was unable to finish his Labor Day celebration speech on the 1st of May as he was loudly booed and chased off the stage by the German people. The people repeatedly shouted “traitor”, “leftist rat”, “get out!”, “we are the people” and “Maas must go!”, eventually getting him to cancel his speech and flee to his armored Mercedes escorted by his armed bodyguards.
Maas is considered one of the biggest proponents of expanding censorship laws, demanding persecution, fines and jail-time for everybody posting “hate speech” on social media. Recently his party suffered a devastating loss in polls across the country, losing to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) by a landslide in the last state election of Saxony, where he held his speech.