This is disconcerting, because they are right, Germany is asking social media platforms to decide what is hate speech and what is not, like that’s an easy thing to do. And they have actual laws on the books about what is hate speech. How will they determine what hate speech is in other countries where there are no laws against hate speech like the US. Do we really want Facebook deciding what is hate speech and what is legitimate political speech at the end of a gun?
However, journalists, lawyers, and free-speech advocates have been voicing their concerns about the new law for months. They say that, to avoid fines, Facebook and others will err on the side of caution and just delete swathes of comments, including ones that are not illegal. They worry that social media platforms are being given the power to police and effectively shut down people’s right to free opinion and free speech in Germany.
The German Journalists Association (DJV) is calling on journalists and media organizations to start documenting all deletions of their posts on social media as of today. “The borders of free speech must not be allowed to be drawn by profit-driven businesses,” said DJV chairman Frank Überall in a recent statement.
Reporters Without Borders also expressed their strong opposition to the law when it was drafted in May, saying it would “contribute to the trend to privatize censorship by delegating the duties of judges to commercial online platforms… as if the internet giants can replace independent and impartial courts.”