Facebook Pushes Back Against Germany’s Plan To Fight Free Speech

Left: (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images) Right: (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook denounced a new German law set to force social companies to remove content considered to include hate speech or misleading news, according to multiple reports published Sunday and Monday.

The legislation, referred to as the “Network Enforcement Act” or the “Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz” (NetzDG), was first proposed in March and subsequently approved in April.

Facebook claims the bill, which mandates that tech companies more intensely cleanse their platforms, will unduly cause systemic censorship. (RELATED: Twitter Suspends Its CEO At Same Time As Alt-Right Purge)

“The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fines,” Facebook said in an official statement, according to Business Insider. “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 [European Union] law.”

Maintaining a balance between free speech and censoring distasteful content is a hard-pressed task for social media companies like Facebook. (RELATED: Twitter Gives White Nationalist His Account Back)

While the law has not been officially enforced yet, German officials have been urging Facebook and other similar websites to comply with their demands.

“After years of discussions, the social media must now unfortunately be forced to take responsibility,” Volker Kauder, the parliamentary floor leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said in December, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Only in this way we can counter further brutalization and willful manipulation of political debate in the net.”

The EU essentially threatened some of the biggest U.S. technology companies — like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, YouTube and Google — to crack down on hate speech themselves in December or face legislation forcing them to do so. If threats of legislation ultimately come to fruition, Facebook will not only be coerced to comply in Germany, but also in all EU member states.

It isn’t only Germany and the EU putting Facebook’s feet to the fire. Several people in the U.S., especially prominent liberals, have pressured Facebook to be more aggressive about purging or at least limiting fraudulent or misleading news. (RELATED: Facebook Updates Trending News Section A Year After Criticism Of Liberal Bias)

Even former President Barack Obama gave Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a talking-to about the platform’s purported “fake news” problem.

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