Germany Passes Strict New Social Media Law

The German government has passed a law that means that social media companies will be fined if they do not remove obviously illegal content with 24 hours. Content that is illegal but is less obviously so has a slightly longer deadline: 7 days. After this time, if the content is still online, the social network will be fined. The fine can range between 5 million and 50 million Euros, depending on the severity of the offence. The law comes into effect in October this year, and affects any social network with more than 2 million users in Germany. Facebook has commented on the ruling, saying that it agrees with the stance of the German government in attempting to fight online hate speech. In a statement, the company said “the best solutions will be found when government, civil society and industry work together”. However, the law has been criticised for its tight time limits. The German Justice Minister has defended this aspect of the law, saying that it had been proven in the past that “large platform operators would not fulfil their obligations” without legal pressure.