German Parliament Backs Plan to Fine Social Media over Hate Speech

(Reuters) — The German parliament approved a plan on Friday to fine social media networks up to 50 million euros ($57 million) if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, despite concerns the law could limit free expression.

Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws covering defamation, public incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence, with prison sentences for Holocaust denial or inciting hatred against minorities. But few online cases are prosecuted.

The law gives social media networks 24 hours to delete or block obviously criminal content and seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases, with an obligation to report back to the person who filed the complaint about how they handled the case.

Failure to comply could see a company fined up to 50 million euros, and the company’s chief representative in Germany fined up to 5 million euros.

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