31 May 2017

Facebook claims Germany's fake news law would see legal content deleted

Facebook has claimed a new German law that would force social media companies to pay up to €50 million if they fail to remove hate speech and false news would encourage tech companies to delete legal content in order to avoid fines.


In March, the German government proposed legislation to fine social media companies if they failed to remove slanderous or threatening online postings quickly which have now been approved by the German Cabinet. Facebook has hit back at the new law, being donned the Network Enforcement Act issuing a statement as to why the draft law ‘is not suitable to combat hate speech and false news’.

Facebook statement

‘The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fines,’ read its statement. ‘It would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies. And several legal experts have assessed the draft law as being against the German constitution and non-compliant with EU law. Facebook is committed to working in partnership with governments and civil society on solutions that will make this draft law unnecessary.’

Fines on stop online 'rabble-rousers'

Companies which fail to comply with the law could be fined up to €5 million on the individual deemed responsible for the company in Germany and €50 million against the organisation itself. Annoucing the plans German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said: ‘This sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content…There should be just as little tolerance for criminal rabble rousing on social networks as on the street.’