Hate speech and fake news was a major problem for social networking platforms throughout entire last year. While most of the popular social media companies tried their best to remove fake news as well as hate speech from their platform, the materials still found their way into these platforms. Facebook’s role in spreading fake news during the last US presidential election has been well documented while video sharing sites like YouTube became part of backlash from advertisers after abusive contents appeared on the platform. Starting from this year however, Germany will be able to fine up to $60 million to social networks if they fail to remove materials from their networks in a timely manner.
The latest law, Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) was passed earlier last year during summer and went into effect later in October. However, the country gave companies until end of the year to prepare themselves to address the situations with questionable materials. Now, the lawmakers expects that social networking sites now have tools to combat fake news, racist post and other similar messages in their platforms. According to new rules, any social networking site which has more than two million members will be required to follow the latest laws.
While some internet users have welcomed the change, not everyone is sharing the same enthusiasm. Some users are worried that the latest laws will result in censorship or prohibit free speech. However, some countries in Europe including UK have already started implementing laws to protect their citizens from exposure to fake news and hate speech.
Despite the possible backlash, recently, YouTube said to CNET that the company is committed to become part of the ongoing problem. A spokesman of the company said, “We’re committed to being part of the solution to illegal hate speech and extremist content online — around the world, and in Germany, working within its new legal framework. We’ll continue to invest heavily in teams and technology to allow us to go further and faster in removing content that breaks our rules or German law, and by working with government, law enforcement, civil society groups, and other companies.”