Germany Cashes Out, Hits Facebook With Fines For Failing To Comply With Its Ultra-Vague 'Hate Speech' Law


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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Comments on “Germany Cashes Out, Hits Facebook With Fines For Failing To Comply With Its Ultra-Vague 'Hate Speech' Law”

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R,ogs/ says:

Re: Re: Re:ADL/AIPAC/ISRAELI blackmail?

…..ADL/AIPAC/ISRAELI blackmail, maybe?

Because it wasnt atheists, Buddhists, Jains, Zoaroastrians, or Jivaro indians that have been screaming about hate speech in the west, as they wage slander and smear campaigns on “the others.”

But rumor has it that the, Flying Spaghetti Monster people were conceived in the Hillel fraternity boardroom, while the pasta grinder was menstruating.

Anonymous Coward says:

The issue in this case isn’t that content moderation is hard or lacks clarity (although NetzDG does have large issues). Facebook intentionally hid the form to report stuff via NetzDG, as compared to e.g. Youtube, where it was just an option when reporting stuff, which led to them only having 0.5% the reports of Youtube. (See

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As your favorite GDPR-troll (a little bit off-topic here), the AC above me is right. Facebook is not fined for not removing hate-speech but for

  • reporting wrong numbers
  • not showing that they have the organization or processes in place to deal with reported illegal/unlawful/illicit (don’t know the best word for "rechtswidrig") content which is more than just "hate-speech" what ever this might be.
Anonymous Coward says:

‘They just want a scapegoat with a full wallet’

i dont think this is the main aim, as it’s going on everywhere. i think the aim is to make any company that provides a means for people who got hold of information, to spread it everywhere, just as quickly as possible, think multiple times before it spreads or allows the spread of that information that the various governments, politicians, the wealthy, the famous, the powerful and their friends want to keep secret, shuttered! every country is doing the same thing. every country is bringing in new laws that stop the freedom of speech, privacy and freedom in general. those countries are supposedly ‘Free, Democratic Countries and condemn the likes of China, N.Korea, Iran but are doing now the exact same thing! and one of the worst examples of this is the good ol’ US of A!! we live in a time where the few are demanding everything and making us their slaves! tyrants and dictators are more rampant now than at any other time and because of how they run the security forces as well, the people are all but powerless to stand against them!

Ganja Man says:

EU Fines Are Just Stealth Taxation Against U.S. Tech Companies

This is no secret. U.S. companies understand that EU Commission fines, regardless of whether they’re based on privacy or competition, are just a revenue generation exercises. You can find the most egregious privacy violators or antitrust cartels in Europe, and they’re given slaps on the wrists by EU regulators. But Silicon Valley tech companies are fined billions for made up violations.

It all started in the 2000s with the EU fines against Microsoft. The Commission got addicted to the fines, and since then, they’ve gone after Intel, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc., repeatedly, to extract fines for supposed violations. It’s basically just stealth taxation and tariffs. If the U.S. pulled this stunt on European companies doing business in the U.S., the practice would stop overnight.

mindfilter2018 (profile) says:

If these tech giants just flat out rejected penalties and refused to pay, you can bet your a$@ that smear articles would start arising out of EU countires — about their need to be broken up.

Let these EU/leftists eat their own words/rhetoric about "don’t like it, start your soc. media or video streaming site". Can’t be that hard to compete with FB/Google/Twitter/YT, etc., right? ????

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