The German government is finally getting around to fining social media companies for violating its absurd “hate speech” law. The law, which took effect January 1, 2018, wasn’t even able to make it a week without causing collateral damage.
Unable to construct a machine capable of killing fascists, the German parliament built one that kills satire. Shortly, after it took effect, the hate speech law took down tweets from a long-running German satirical magazine. More debacles followed — so many that the German equivalent of the alt-right was able to score political points on government censorship, even as they called for government censorship in the other direction.
The new law turned social media companies into ATMs with its demand that something as nebulous as “hate speech” be removed with extreme haste lest its principals and moderation teams be fined personally for stuff German assholes posted to the internet.
It’s time to cash out.
Facebook has been slapped with a fine of over $2 million by Germany for “under reporting” complaints it receives about alleged “illegal” online content.
Whoops. I guess that’s the sort of thing that happens when a.) the law is uber-vague about what constitutes “hate speech” and b.) gives you only 24 hours to do something about it. This is the main complaint by Facebook. The law “lacks clarity.” Nevertheless, demands for something to be done have been made, therefore something must be done, “clarity” notwithstanding.
Facebook has responded. It has tried to do what the German government demands, even without helpful things like narrow definitions or realistic turnaround time. This report shows the social media behemoth has fielded 1,700 complaints from the German government over the last half of 2018. The claim that it hasn’t complied with reporting requirements is absurd, given the lack of guidance from the German government.
As Mike Masnick has pointed out on multiple occasions, moderation at scale is difficult. It becomes impossible when dozens of competing interests push for expedient moderation of content not clearly defined by the laws Facebook is now subject to. The thing is, it doesn’t matter to these governments. They just want a scapegoat with a full wallet, and Facebook certainly fits the bill. So we get what we have here: a law that nukes lawful content while still extracting cash from Facebook’s coffers. Win-win, I guess, if that’s all Germans expect from their government.
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