Who should moderate the internet? In 2017, Germany passed a 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. Other European governments have been busy drafting similar laws, and the European Commission has also considered regulation (though it has recently “backed away” from proposing legislation).
Whose responsibility is it to mediate hate speech? Should governments intervene, or should they leave it up to online platforms to self-regulate? Critics of legislation worry that tight deadlines might lead to accidental censorship as companies choose to delete questionable content rather than risk a fine. Supporters, however, point out that platforms have been slow to respond to the problem of illegal content being shared by their users, and argue that introducing new legislation would merely mean that existing rules governing free speech offline were also effectively being enforced online.
Today’s debate follows on from our earlier panel discussion in the European Parliament on freedom of speech, hate speech, and moderating illegal content online.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Lubomir, who argues free speech has clear limits: “free speech shouldn’t mean you can slander others, lie and misinform deliberately, or incite others to violence and bloodshed.” Is he right? And, if so, how can our societies, in practice, keep this sort of content off the internet?
To get a response, we put Lubomir’s comment to Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, Director of European Affairs at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit organisation that campaigns to protect online fundamental freedoms and rights, including freedom of speech. How would he respond?
Next up, we had a comment sent in from Maricela, who thinks internet platforms like YouTube and Facebook should be fined if they don’t remove hate speech. She argues platforms “should be fined if they don’t implement a reporting system and immediately take action after getting justified complaints from other users… They should hire people if their AI is not yet capable to handle these bad comments.” Is she right?
To get a response, we spoke to Louisa Klingvall, a Policy Officer in the Fundamental Rights Policy Unit of DG Justice and Consumers at the European Commission. How would she respond?
Who’s responsible for keeping illegal content off the internet? Should internet platforms be fined if they don’t remove hate speech? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: (Public Domain) – T. Chick McClure
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