Should social media sites be liable for their users’ content? Germany has passed a new law forcing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites to remove hate speech, defamatory fake news, and other “illegal content” within 24 hours or face fines of up to 50 million euros.
Critics of the legislation, which is one of the toughest of its kind in a democracy, worry that the tight deadline will lead to accidental censorship as companies choose to delete questionable content rather than risk a fine. Supporters, however, point out that the law merely asks that existing rules governing free speech in Germany are also enforced online.
Many countries have been experiencing a rise in “fake news”, internet harassment, and online radicalisation. Yet free speech advocates argue that the behaviour of an ugly minority should not be used as an excuse to restrict the freedoms of everybody. Could more countries start looking to Germany’s example, or is this a step backwards for civil liberties?
Should websites be fined if they fail to remove hate speech? Should social media sites be liable for their users’ content? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!