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Germany passes law to fine social media over hate speech

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: European People's Party.

PanARMENIAN.Net – German lawmakers have passed a controversial law under which Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies could face fines of up to €50 million ($57 million) for failing to remove hate speech. The Network Enforcement Act, commonly referred to as the “Facebook law,” was passed by the Bundestag, Germany’s parliamentary body, on Friday, June 30. It will go into effect in October, The Verge says.

Under the law, social media companies would face steep fines for failing to remove “obviously illegal” content — including hate speech, defamation, and incitements to violence — within 24 hours. They would face an initial fine of €5 million, which could rise to €50 million. Web companies would have up to one week to decide on cases that are less clear cut.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas and other supporters of the bill have argued that it is necessary to curb the spread of hate speech, which is strictly regulated under German law.

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