News Worms
News Worms

Germany approves bill curbing online hate crime, fake news

Germany approves bill curbing online hate crime, fake news

The draft law stills require approval from parliament, which is dominated by Merkel's grand right-left coalition.

Already, a few fake news reports have emerged in Germany, including one falsely alleging a rape previous year of a German girl of Russian descent by asylum seekers.

Merkel is now in the midst of campaigning hard for a forth term in office.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that the companies offering such online platforms are responsible for removing hateful content. But it's been unhappy with their performance - calling out Facebook and Twitter for poor complaint handling earlier this month, when it also proposed the new law that's now been approved by the cabinet.

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He also said he would seek to push for similar rules at a European level.

While Facebook has announced some efforts to combat the spread of fake news, such as labeling news content linked to questionable websites or known-purveyors of fake news, German lawmakers say social media companies have not acted quickly enough to stymie the flow of hate speech and false information, according to The Washington Post.

"We do not accept the fact that companies in Germany do not adhere to the law".

"Germany considers itself a pioneer", said Markus Beckedahl, a prominent German Internet activist and Berlin-based blogger.

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However, some politicians believe the proposed legislation, which is expected to pass, interferes with freedom of expression. The new fines, Maas said, are there to make sure they comply with the law.

And the number of deletes made by the social media companies hugely varied. A recent review of this project found that Facebook had removed just 39 percent of content flagged by users, while Twitter removed just 1 percent.

Germany's justice minister said hate speech posed a grave danger to harmonious living in a free, open and democratic society.

Germany has specific hate speech laws which criminalize certain types of speech, such as incitement to racial violence.

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It also rejected the data cited by Mr Maas, saying that a test carried out by FSM - a self-regulation lobby group backed by online media - found that Facebook deleted more than 65 per cent of illegal content within a day. "Therefore in future, if it doesn't get better, we will impose high fines on these companies", Maas told German broadcaster ARD's "Morgenmagazin" show.


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