Delete hate speech or lose millions, the German Network Enforcement Act says

network enforcement act germany 24480450  german parliament building reichstag in berlin
The German Parliament building in Berlin Sean Pavone / 123RF
Recent events have social media platforms sharing just how they handle hate speech, but a new law in Germany called the Network Enforcement Act could push the issue even further. The law, which was just passed by the country’s parliament Bundestag, requires social media platforms to remove hate speech within 24 hours or face fines that could total up to 50 million euros, the equivalent of about $57 million in the United States.

The Network Enforcement Act, which will go into effect this October, says that social media platforms must remove hate speech, defamation, and incitements to violence, statements that are also illegal to make in the country. The law also requires the social media platforms to remove Nazi symbols and Holocaust denials.

While the law requires most posts to be removed within 24 hours, content that isn’t as clear must be removed within seven days. Each social media network, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, is now required to submit public reports detailing how many posts were flagged and how many reports were removed. Companies that fail to take care hate speech in a consistent, timely manner will see fines between 5 million and 50 million euros.

The legislation comes after a report that suggested that Facebook removed 39 percent of hate speech within a day.

The new law, however, is raising concerns over free speech. Others opposed to the new legislation suggest that the policy gives the social media networks too much freedom to decide which content violates the law.

The legislation could also be tough for social media networks to stay on top of. In a recent behind-the-scenes look at how Facebook treats hate speech, the platform said that artificial intelligence isn’t yet to a point where a computer can automatically flag hate speech. The platform is continuing to bulk up its efforts, and is expected to add 3,000 new employees to help with the task before the end of the year.

Facebook says the task is also challenging because some words may be defamatory in some cultures but not in others — for example, a “fag” could be referring to a cigarette in Great Britain. While some words are automatically flagged, when users share those same words are used in reference to themselves, the posts are not removed. That means that automatically removing posts with a certain word could be censoring content that isn’t hate speech, which is one of the reasons why social media platforms can’t yet rely entirely on AI to remove the posts.

According to The New York Times, Germany has the one of the strictest policies against hate speech.

Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Gaming

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.
News

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."