Effects of Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (German network enforcement law)

Facebook is opening its second center in Essen, Germany.

The center is going to investigate and delete the offending posts from the site. One of the reasons behind Facebook’s decision is a bill recently adopted by the German parliament (Bundestag), with the aim of repelling hateful posts and the fight off against breaking privacy rights by the government.

According to the new German law social media companies such as Facebook could face fines of €50.000.000 for failing to remove hate speech within 24 hours if the situation is easy to clarify. If the situation is difficult and requires detailed investigation, the service providers has one week to do it and the decide about the deletion.

The new bill is effective from 1st October 2017 but the authorities will have the right for fining from 2018. The new regulation is affective for every social media site, so besides Facebook Twitter and Youtube is also in the spectrum of the bill.

Facebook now employs 4500 people worldwide to remove legally objectionable content, but they would like to increase this number to 7500 in the future. From this autumn there will be 500 in Essen while in Berlin the number of staff has just been raised to 700 in the local center.

In the recent weeks we can hear pros and cons about the new law, which can definitely affect the freedom of speech but can also provide defense for sensitive layers of the society. I don’t think the German government would like to start the new year with a €50 million fine but it is obvious that the age we live in, the traditional legal instruments against hate speech are not effective enough.