The Internet in Germany is about to get quite a bit cleaner, as the German government reached an agreement with Facebook, Google, and Twitter to have the three behemoths take down hate speech within 24 hours, reports Reuters.
With Germany already having to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees, its government has been trying to crack down on rising online racism due in large part to the influx. The current crisis in Syria is unlikely to make the number decrease, however, with 4 million Syrians already having fled the war-torn country. The influx seems to be directly proportionate to the amount of online racism, mainly towards these refugees, which is why Germany would want to curb such activity before it gets out of hand.
More specifically, Germany’s agreement with the aforementioned trio of companies involves them deleting criminal forms of hate, such as inciting people to commit acts of violence, within 24 hours. In addition, Facebook, Google, and Twitter will have specialist teams in order to make it easier to report hate speech.
“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “And we agree that, as a rule, this should be possible within 24 hours.”
This agreement comes at an interesting time for the three companies, seeing how they met with French officials earlier in December to discuss counter-strategy measures. These measures look to specifically target the online activities of ISIS, the Islamic extremist group that claimed responsibility for November’s Paris terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of 129 people and injured another 368 people.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter already have language in their respective policies that forbid hate speech, so Germany’s agreement with the three companies is seen more as an effort to remain parallel with Germany’s own policies.