Germany Wants To Hold Facebook Criminally Liable If It Doesn't Find & Delete 'Hate' Speech

from the this-is-a-bad-idea dept

We've been pointing out that in the rush to claim that Facebook is a media company that must take responsibility for the content that is posted and shared on the site, there's really an implicit call for blocking content that is somehow deemed "bad." People keep acting like Facebook, rather than its users, has the responsibility to edit what is on the site. That's dangerous -- and for yet another example of how, we've now got a German official saying that Facebook has to be classified as a media property and be held criminally liable if it doesn't magically delete "hate speech."

This is really, really dangerous. Yes, we know that Germany has much stricter hate speech laws, but if you have to have them, at least hold the proper party responsible: those doing the speaking (and, yes, as we've pointed out repeatedly, hate speech laws are almost always abused by governments to silence and punish people they don't like). Facebook, to some extent, has brought this on itself. In the past, it's made promises, to Germany in particular about how it will help curb "hate speech" on the site. And, eventually, the government is going to get upset and say "you're not doing enough." Earlier this year, Facebook (along with Google, Microsoft, and Twitter) tried to appease European bureaucrats by signing an agreement to respond to complaints of hate speech within 24 hours. But now officials want more. Because once you give governments the power to censor speech, they're always going to want more.

None of this is to say that Facebook needs to leave any particular speech up on its site. It's a private company and gets to make those decisions. But when governments get involved, things get scary quickly -- especially as the EU does still have safe harbors in the Ecommerce Directive that are supposed to limit liability for platforms. The statement made here, by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, is a deliberate attempt to get around that Directive by declaring Facebook no different than a newspaper, which is responsible for what it prints. That's ridiculous on any number of levels, starting with the fact that newspapers literally pick everything that they print, whereas a platform like Facebook doesn't. It's all on the users.

The really ridiculous thing here is that statements like this make things worse. It makes it clear to these platform companies that no matter how much they try to appease government officials on things like this, they're always going to push for more and more censorship power.

Filed Under: criminal liability, ecommerce directive, free speech, germany, hate speech, heiko maas, intermediary liability, media, platforms
Companies: facebook


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2016 @ 2:58pm

    Re:

    They did, in a way. But perhaps you're thinking of 1989, as now the country has a militant egalitarian in charge who was trained well in the art of forced social engineering by her masters in East Berlin. The "hate speech" laws are an (over)reaction to the mustache guy. They think that by punishing people for writing or saying things that ruffle the feathers of minority groups, they'll quash the next potential mustache guy before he has a chance to unleash his manifesto onto the world.

    The problem with this is that they're blocking Germans from voicing very real concerns about the #1 issue making everyone fed up in this current year's election season: immigration, especially by a (like it or not) very foreign, very incompatible, and very violent group of people, following a very primitive and barbaric ideology responsible for the Pearl Harbor 2.0 in New York that set this massive invasion of the sandbox countries in motion in the first place.

    When people get put in jail for being justifiably upset that these "oppressed minorities" went "ficki-ficki" on a number of girls and women at an outdoor New Year's party, and the political class does nothing about it in the name of apologizing for the last mustache guy and stopping the next mustache guy, guess what: people are going to throw out the current ruling class and install the next mustache guy. Especially when the group of people you're inviting in en masse are themselves the sworn enemies of the Jews.

    Merkel's atrocious decision to take the side of the "refugees" (who nobody but the most delusional kumbaya hand-holders sees as refugees anymore, but an invasion) as an "apology" for the events of 1939-1945, has already backfired tremendously. Now, AfD is not the NSDAP by any stretch of the imagination (except maybe in the same leftist press that the Americans spit in the face of when electing Trump), but if something isn't done about the migrant crisis soon that gives Germans a sense of security, AfD will look like a rambunctious group of Boy Scouts compared to what the public will want next.

    Merkel is clearly mentally ill, as she has made the decision to seek a fourth term as chancellor despite an approval rating rivaling Adolph Voldemort himself (who is actually more popular than she is, because at least he showed affinity for the native Germans instead of invading foreigners). If she wins, it will be due to fraudulent meddling by Eurocrats just like with Hofer, Le Pen, and the perpetual Brexit delay.

    Meanwhile, an increasingly restless public is angry about the neoliberal elites turning their homelands into the same third-world hellholes they've been bombing to bits, causing the mass exodus in the first place. Now that they cannot even vent their frustrations in harmless forum comments, those frustrations aren't just going to magically go away. They're going to burst open like a pressure valve, and we'll have yet another burning of the Reichstag - if not much worse.

    And all because they couldn't make jokes about guys named Ahmed due to a law about hurting their feelings. It's campus culture on the scale of an entire country -- an entire continent, in fact.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.