back to article Germany to Facebook, Twitter: We are *this* close to fining you €50m unless you delete fake news within 24 hours

The German government has formally proposed fining Facebook and Twitter up to €50m ($53m) for failing to remove slanderous fake news and hate speech within 24 hours. A new bill introduced on Tuesday by interior minister Heiko Maas is designed to "combat hate crime and criminal offenses on social networks more effectively," …

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could be tricky

      There's so many reasons to love Germany; they hate those fucking scientologists, lots of fun foods, good technology folks, great cars, and now a social media policy that makes some sense! Twitter is not supposed to be a free-for-all. I should be able to go there and find some like-minded people to hang out with and discuss the happenings of the day, but it is infested with assholes and makes the service unusable. They should not be there for assholes to shout anything and everything. In fact, they should charge for the service AND impose this new policy to see how it works out. It would have an immediate impact of flushing all the most inane shitheads right off the fucking thing! Right now, the various social media sites are shitholes filled with angry idiots who somehow figured out how to use a computer, but unfortunately they use it for nothing meaningful or creative; just to amplify their stupidity.

      When I first used the Internet in the 1980s we had a saying; flame in private, praise in public. Unfortunately, the modern muggles of the Internet do the exact opposite. Time to shut the doors to the world-wide whiteboard, and only let normal people write on it. The assholes of the world can jolly well go out and build their own blog sites and fight with their hosting providers, and not bother the regular users ever again! They still have "freedom of speech," they're free to go erect their own site to shout in, not on my Twitter, or the other public ones. Anything less is just not going to work.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Could be tricky

        Can I demand that we delete the preceding message for its potty-mouth language ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could be tricky

        Twitter's fine, just click the make your profile private and only follow things that interest you.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could be tricky

        You've got of backwards. Twitter is a containment zone for normies and casuals.

        I don't want them leaking into my boards.

      4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Phil.T.Tipp
          Thumb Up

          Re: Could be tricky

          @cd - I fail to see exactly how this celebrated piece of fictional film dialogue could ever garner a single downvote. Mind you, the outragerati are never guilty of critical thinking. One giant thumb up from me.

        2. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: Could be tricky

          Did I not read somewhere that in the US the practice of anal sex is well above 50%? Well over 50% have tried cannabis?

          If your rain came it would clog the drains with bodies and the rest would die from the miasma...

          Amazing the amount of hate that come out at night.

          1. BOH1066

            Re: Could be tricky

            *headdesk* it's a quote from 'taxi driver'.

        3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Could be tricky

          "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."

          Taxi for CD!

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Could be tricky

          @cd - Well, I think I know what you mean, Travis, but it's not gonna be easy.

        5. mstreet

          Re: Could be tricky

          Thumbs up for the Clash\Taxi Driver reference. Even if it is a bit off-topic.

        6. HMcG

          Re: Could be tricky

          Unless they buy umberellas.

      5. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Could be tricky

        @AC RE:There's so many reasons to love Germany....

        The irony is strong with this one... Doing half of the things they say shouldn't be done.

      6. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Could be tricky

        @ "Fucking Scientologists" AC

        I think Scientology is daffy, but I also think you just crossed the line into hate speech. Please send your 50 million Euros to to my Paypal account.

        Freedom is freedom. Germany has many good things to recommend it, but I'd rather have the Trump administration's civil rights policy, rather than German standards on hate speech, acceptable political speech and association and freedom of religion.

      7. BOH1066

        Re: Could be tricky

        why should you be the one 'allowed' access to 'like minded people"? who gets to decide 'normal'? not to mention the obvious fact that what offends you might not offend others. so why are your views the ones to determine what gives offense n? for example, i know quite a few people who'd find your profane language not just offensive but an indication you're an 'angry idiot'. your hubris is amazing and more than a little disturbing. you seem to have conflated your being amoung the first to use the internet with being the one to decide who should use it and how.

      8. JimC

        Re: Could be tricky

        > When I first used the Internet in the 1980s we had a saying;

        > flame in private, praise in public.

        I don't remember it actually happening that way though. The seeds of almost everything bad about the net were visible in the early days.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Could be tricky

      @pccobbler - The devil is in the details and how does one define "fake news" and "hate speech". I think the definition will either be so broad that law gets trashed by the courts or it is so narrow that its ineffective at best.

    3. mstreet

      Re: Could be tricky

      The proposed Canadian law is pure idiocy, and one of the those laws put forward by self serving demagogues trying to buy minority votes . Since they don't define "Islamophobia", one has to look elsewhere for a definition. So, according to the Oxford dictionary, Islamophobia is:

      "Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force."

      Since I know at least 2 Muslims who are hard set against Islam "as a political force", does that mean they are by definition, Islamophobes?

      Should the law get passed, both my Muslim and non-Muslim friends, are toying with the idea of going down to the local police station and turning ourselves in.

      1. Gerhard Mack

        Re: Could be tricky

        The reports that there is a proposed Canadian law banning Islamophobia are a god example of fake news. The reality is that its a non binding motion calling on the government to condemn Islamophobia and study what actions should be taken to reduce it.

        It doesn't define Islamophobia because it doesn't really need to since it makes no changes to the existing legal framework of Canada whatsoever.

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          1. Gerhard Mack

            Re: Could be tricky

            @pccobbler

            "It is very much binding. Read the bill yourself instead of assuming. I quoted the relevant sections in a comment made yesterday. Or just start here: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-59-41-1.html"

            I'm a bit lost here.

            1 This is not the bill currently being debated in Parliament, it's from 2 years ago.

            2 It is for the province of Quebec only.

            3 It doesn't mention Islam or Islamophobia anywhere.

            4 It references the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and there is plenty of case law to establish what contravenes the charter making offenses rather well defined.

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        2. mstreet

          Re: Could be tricky

          "The reality is that its a non binding motion calling on the government to condemn Islamophobia and study what actions should be taken to reduce it"

          So...what the government is saying, is in fact a load of meaningless drivel designed to make them look like they are being forward thinking heroes for the masses?

          If it has no legal or binding impact, then what, other than getting their smiling mugs on camera is the point? I thought they were elected to lead the country, and make real decisions based on real situations. Instead, they are wasting their time and our tax dollars, putting together a giant group hug that seems to have no purpose but to tell everyone "look at me, I'm not a racist".

          If their intent is in the slightest bit inspired by noble intent, then why is it just Islamophobia, and not racism period?

          1. Gerhard Mack

            Re: Could be tricky

            @mstreet

            "So...what the government is saying, is in fact a load of meaningless drivel designed to make them look like they are being forward thinking heroes for the masses?"

            "If it has no legal or binding impact, then what, other than getting their smiling mugs on camera is the point? I thought they were elected to lead the country, and make real decisions based on real situations. Instead, they are wasting their time and our tax dollars, putting together a giant group hug that seems to have no purpose but to tell everyone "look at me, I'm not a racist"."

            "If their intent is in the slightest bit inspired by noble intent, then why is it just Islamophobia, and not racism period?"

            It references Islamophobia because we have some anti Muslim actions lately including the recent shooting in mosque by a white nationalist.

            But other than that: If you were more familiar with the current political situation in Canada, you would understand that the current Liberal government lead by pretty boy Trudeau is pretty much all about looking good for the cameras and that they have accomplished nothing useful. They were elected to be the opposite of the Conservative Party that got a ton of things done, but also tended to be annoying social conservatives and as an example took pointless parting shots at Muslims in an effort to wind up their base and keep from losing the last election.

    4. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Re: Could be tricky

      Given Zuckerberg's worth of almost $60 billion, even a $50 million fine might not change things...

      It's a measured response (a 'warning shot', if you like). If a $50m fine is ineffective, the German government may choose to add a zero. If the response is still poor, further zeroes may follow. Soon, it looks unwise to have ignored the warning shot.

    5. Ilsa Loving

      Re: Could be tricky

      > Not to mention that there is no clear-cut definition of fake news.

      Actually there is. But people being what they are, the definition has been more warped and mutilated with every passing day. Fake news is just that. News that has been fabricated whole cloth, with maybe a passing nod to reality to help it look more legitimate.

      What fake news *isn't*, is what Trump et al try to claim it is. Basically anything they don't like, or doesn't push the narrative they want.

      This is one thing that bothers me a great deal, and why I've basically given up on US news. There are no laws requiring news to be factual. If there were, then people like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job before the sun set.

      Canada by contrast, (Please correct me if I'm wrong) does have such laws, and you'll notice that Canadian news, is no where near as ridiculous or down right fabricated the way US news is. Occasionally they get the facts wrong, which is to be expected, but they don't have the freedom to push agendas. If the editorial staff doesn't like the content at hand, the best they can do is simply omit it entirely.

      For example, when the Liberals won the last election, some conservative rags preferred to put some sports on the front page, or some nonsense about the Kardashians. What you didn't see what people clamouring on with conspiracy theories or the other idiocy you see in US news.

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      2. caradoc

        Re: Could be tricky

        Trump is playing the MSM at their own game. They disseminate false claims the whole time without evidence and then later partially retract, but the headline is out there and sticks as fact.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could be tricky

        "This is one thing that bothers me a great deal, and why I've basically given up on US news. There are no laws requiring news to be factual. If there were, then people like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly would be out of a job before the sun set."

        Ah, but Beck and O'Reilly are not _news_. It's how all the media organizations get away with the most egregious stuff. Make it opinion and you can pretty much say anything. Mix it up with actual news that's just slanted and you have more effective propaganda.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gotta stop radicalising all those axe-wielding, lorry driving right wingers the Germans have a problem with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heil Merkel.

      Hear hear. Ordinary folk can't be trusted with free speech for the risk of radicalisation, and women must cover their bodies should a man be inclined to rape them.

      Remember the law and it's makers are always right. The truth is no defence.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Heil Merkel.

        There is NO reason why Twitter, Facebook etc should be exempt from the same rules as radio, TV, magazines, newspapers.

        It's not about limiting free speech, but taking responsibility for your money making scheme.

        There is nothing altruistic about Facebook or Twitter.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Heil Merkel.

          There is no reason that phone/sms should be exempt from the same rules as radio, tv ...

          I demand that the Polizei monitor all phone calls for ungood speech

          1. Truckle The Uncivil

            Re: Heil Merkel.

            @Yet Another Anonymous Coward

            That is the NSA's job and they are already doing it.

          2. Named coward

            Re: Heil Merkel.

            "There is no reason that phone/sms should be exempt from the same rules as radio, tv ...

            I demand that the Polizei monitor all phone calls for ungood speech"

            Phonecalls/sms are private communication between individuals. Public posts on social media are, well, public

        2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Heil Merkel.

          Maybe outlets publishing fake news, hate speech etc. should be, like the papers, required to publish a retraction in equal placing to the original.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Truth stands alone irrefutably. Only lies have to be enforced.

            Amazon have recently banned several books that are alleged to deny the Holocaust (some of them are available elsewhere or online). If those books contained false information, it would be better to refute them with truth. If you ban information, you drive it's propagation underground and support will grow. If you refute it openly then you can limit those who believe it to those who choose to believe falsehood. Banning things has a tendency to increase people's interest in them - could that be their intent?

            1. Truckle The Uncivil

              <quote>Amazon have recently banned several books that are alleged to deny the Holocaust (some of them are available elsewhere or online). If those books contained false information, it would be better to refute them with truth. If you ban information, you drive it's propagation underground and support will grow. If you refute it openly then you can limit those who believe it to those who choose to believe falsehood. Banning things has a tendency to increase people's interest in them - could that be their intent?</quote>

              You cannot refute false information by publishing correct information. The latter will be discarded unread or unseen by people who would consume the former. (They enjoy it)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "You cannot refute false information by publishing correct information. The latter will be discarded unread or unseen by people who would consume the former. (They enjoy it)"

                And that's quite proven in the US, where the near-absolute freedom of speech hasn't stopped hate speech, quite the contrary.

            2. the Jim bloke Silver badge

              Amazon dont ban enough

              My only use of amazon is the kindle store, and the crap they promote should never have been let out into the public sphere.

              back in the day of dead-tree books, the costs of production, distribution and promotion, meant that publishers had to quality assess each manuscript and reject the unsellable. Now, kids whose life experience consists of attending college and watching TV are posting multi book series - and Amazon shoves them into your face in some kind of "you may be interested" list, while the good authors I am actually interested in I have to search out manually.

              So.. back on topic,

              Ban them,

              Ban them all,

              ban the rest of them too.

              Whichever them is plugging political whatever on wherever.

              I promise my interest will not be increased.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: Amazon dont ban enough

                Now, kids whose life experience consists of attending college and watching TV are posting multi book series - and Amazon shoves them into your face in some kind of "you may be interested" list, while the good authors I am actually interested in I have to search out manually.
                How odd! Amazon's recommendations, while not perfect, are usually of things I'm interested in reading: philosophy and history. The only items of no interest to me, such as Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for meaning are because I already have on my Kindle.

        3. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: Heil Merkel.

          I would say that facebook and twitter are less like TV and magazines and more like people standing on street corners with megaphones. We should use similar laws with regard to that.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Heil Merkel.

          "There is NO reason why Twitter, Facebook etc should be exempt from the same rules as radio, TV, magazines, newspapers."

          I disagree, at least on the radio and TV part. Those are broadcast out to everyone, so they have to have certain rules, and are regulated by the government. There is a limit on who gets to transmit said signals.

          Twitter and Facebook are private sites running on private servers that you have to explicitly visit to see their content. There is no limit on who gets to put up web servers.

          So there is quite a lot of difference, if you look at in a different way.

    2. Geronimo!

      I call bullsh*t

      The axe-wielder was no right winger, but apparently a man with severe mental disorder. (Well, yes, that might apply to one of two of these rightwing dicks too, but for the rest: neither stupidity nor ignorance are mental disorders).

      The lorry driver was an ISIS terrorist.

      To prevent radicalisation, you'll need education first.

      But since you can't lock them kids in schools 24/7, you need to have an overview of the places where these kids are the rest of the time.

      Making sure that hate speech etc. is not being seen as "normal" (It's been on facebook now for weeks, so can't be anything wrong with it) but is being removed and acted upon, will send a clear signal: If it's unlawful, it gets deleted and the author will be held responsible for that.

      True: This will only help so much, but it is a start.

      By the way: being a German citizen myself: I do not feel bothered one bit. Might be because I received a proper upbringing, learnt to think for myself and check facts before believing what someone else tells me. Having reported rightist hate speech to FB and Twitter several times, not once these posts were reacted upon, not even where threats to healt or life were written in the comments.

      According to the message from FB, this was not in conflict with the FB guidelines...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Start with CNN

    Let's be honest. Even you Trump haters considered them fake news until they jumped on your bandwagon.

    Remember the (alleged) WMDs!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Start with CNN

      They were not fake, they were fabricated and purchased news.

      We knew when the trouble will break out in ex-Yugoslavia in the 90-es. Two weeks to the day after CNN crew lands in Sofia (if they were filming on the Serbian side and late in Kosovo) or Budapest (if they were filming on the Croatian/Bosniak side). They were there BEFORE the shooting started every effing ttime. I lost two bets on a case of beer on this and stopped betting any more.

      Do not even get me started on the hours and hours and hours of footage from the Middle East where the reporters have asked a local lunatic in need of an easy earner to shoot at an imaginary foe.

      It is with "F", just not Fake, It is worse. A different F word - a longer one.

      By the way, Beeb and co are not any better and Faux is probably even worse.

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Start with CNN

        It is with "F", just not Fake, It is worse. A different F word - a longer one.

        ... Facebook?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Start with CNN

          Fabricationalized

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Start with CNN

      The US temporarily listed 'Private Eye' as a source of 'Fake News'.

      They don't do Satire very well on that side of the pond.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Start with CNN

        They don't do Satire very well on that side of the pond.

        Or bacon, or beer, or chocolate. They're world leading on hambeasts and starting wars in far away places, thought.

    3. Phil.T.Tipp
      Trollface

      Re: Start with CNN

      @troland - yup, the old Clinton News Netywork - they've only doubled down with the fake newsery since the God-Emperor ascended, and how. It's desperately sad, but endlessly funny.

      1. BOH1066

        Re: Start with CNN

        i think you meant to say "rapist-god-emperor' also, veles, macedonia and paul horner are 2 examples which immediately spring to mind when the subject of fake news arises. and neither is associated with the dems and are but the tip of the iceberg. unfortunately, both sides of the political aisle are guilty of betraying the public trust, time and time again. admittedly, it'd be nice if the problem weren't compounded by admissions involving sexual predation, both committing and encouraging the acts, but that was too much to hope for.....

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Facebook share/like

    ..is the problem. Most crap on facebook that resulted in me deleting my old profile (used mostly to share photos of hill walking trips, etc) was not written by any of the "friend list" individuals, but it was re-posted by the share or like options. In fact very little original materiel, only maybe the day's bowel movement times, was written by many of them.

    That is why crap spreads so fast: most of the asshats on FB don't bother to check what it is, who posted it, or what it might result in. I know one guy who was 'liking' posted by the UK's far-right Britain First mob, when I pointed this out he was surprised and apologised for spreading it. Then about a month later back to his asshattery by re-posting stuff without checking or thinking...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook share/like

      If ever any of your family gets raped or murdered by The Others, you might think differently!

      Naivety is not an excuse for treason, and always gets remembered...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since when has twatter and foolbook been reliable sources of news or anything for that matter ?

    What constitutes hate speech, I hate the Government ?

    Never been keen on censorship as it's a slippery road to editing history and a totalitarian state.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What constitutes hate speech, I hate the Government ?

      "Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial background, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation" would be a good place to start.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial

        Not necessarily........

        The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 inserted Section 4A into the Public Order Act 1986. That part prohibits anyone from causing alarm or distress. Section 4A states:

        (1) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he— (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

        I still say it's censorship of free speech, there are circumstances where this legislation can be abused to suppress free speech.

        I'm with Rowan Atkinson on this:

        https://www.theguardian.com/media/2004/dec/07/raceandreligion.broadcasting

        To paraphrase:

        "it is the duty of a comedian to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          well given b is infinitely broad.

          I mean, for example, observing that "simply removing your penis and saying you're a woman doesn't make you a woman." Is hate crime.

          And that saying that maybe legal British residents should be the priority of care is also apparently possibly hate crime... I mean hate crime is overly broad and to be honest a non-sense.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        "Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial background, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation" would be a good place to start.

        That you got any downvotes is both stunning and appalling.

        1. Phil.T.Tipp
          FAIL

          @ecofeco - Take your morally superior, elitist, virtue signalling bullshit and shove it, sunshine.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >That you got any downvotes is both stunning and appalling.

          The reason it received downvotes is because from a legal point of view it's inaccurate, hate speech laws are much broader than this, very much like RIPA and the snoopers charter suffer from excessive overreach.

        3. Kiwi Silver badge

          "Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial background, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation" would be a good place to start.

          That you got any downvotes is both stunning and appalling.

          Why? I've received threats of violence and death based on all 3 (one of the "death threats" was only a technical death-threat, as in "I'll kill you you honky bastard"; probably not intended as a death threat but legally it is). So-called Christians who wanted me dead because I'm gay, gays who (before I came out to them) wanted me dead because I'm Christian...

          Why is it "stunning and appalling" that someone should get downvotes for the posted comment?

      3. poohbear

        So that gets the bible banned then.... not like the author is going to issue a retraction.

      4. SundogUK Silver badge

        But it's only ever the start.

      5. fajensen Silver badge

        B..but The enforcement of that would be deeply discriminatory against that special religion that always get a free pass (possibly because it's sponsors blows so much oil money on western weapons and stuff).

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial background, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation" would be a good place to start.

        The issue is not where it starts, but where it ends.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Speech that advocates the injury or death of others based on their racial background, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation" would be a good place to start.

        I hate Islam too. Welcome aboard brother.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      What constitutes hate speech, I hate the Government ?

      It is very clearly defined in the law books (BGB, Bundesgesetzbuch).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What constitutes hate speech?

      It surely has to take the scope of the speech into account?

      If I were to declare that "All Irish are scum and should be rounded up & gassed." I would rightly be accused of hate speech. There's no way that argument could be defended.

      On the other hand, if I said that "my Irish neighbour is a thieving wee gobshite who should be strung up" it may be slander and I could be sued for it, or it could be personal opinion based on fact. Either way, it's not broad enough to be "hate speech". IMO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >If I were to declare that "All Irish are scum and should be rounded up & gassed." I would rightly be accused of hate speech. There's no way that argument could be defended.

        I would defend your right to say that but also I would argue against you as I believe a person holding those views is bigoted and extreme. The worst thing would be to force it underground, let people say it in the open so it can be challenged.

  6. Crazy Operations Guy

    "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

    Yeah, except that that right explicitly does not cover libel or slander...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

      Nor calls to violence and destruction.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

      Personally I am sick and tired of hearing that "free speech" means I have to accept someone racially insulting someone else.

      Free speech should mean free to bring intelligence to the debate, not hate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

        >Personally I am sick and tired of hearing that "free speech" means I have to accept someone racially insulting someone else.

        Personally I'm sick of hearing people telling me what I can't say, too many thinned skinned whiners in this world today who constantly bleat how unjust life is. Life is unfair, live with it and get on with it.

        Or perhaps you would like a return to blasphemy laws where I'm stoned to death, imprisoned or burnt at the stake for criticising religion ?

        If someone is allowed to advocate something then I should be able to disagree and argue against the issue irrespective of the topic.Hate laws tread on this most basic of human privileges, go and read the legislation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

          "Personally I'm sick of hearing people telling me what I can't say, too many thinned skinned whiners in this world today who constantly bleat how unjust life is. Life is unfair, live with it and get on with it."

          Life is unfair, live with it and get on with it.

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "burnt at the stake for criticising religion"

          I see, so for you, racially insulting someone is criticizing religion.

          No wonder this world is going in circles.

          And you need to get with the times : these days stoning is out, beatings are given with baseball bats.

          We're modern now.

        3. BOH1066

          Re: "which gives strong legal defense to all forms of speech no matter how offensive"

          wow....i don't know whether to laugh at the irony or pity the sincerity of your comment.

  7. J.Smith
    Trollface

    First one to mention Nazi's

    Ve hav ways ov making you not talk.

    1. DanceMan

      Re: First one to mention Nazi's

      Leave Erdogan out of this.

      If this proposal about fake news were to be enacted, would Erdogan's German Facebook page consist of a lot of white space?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Danceman

        "If this proposal about fake news were to be enacted, would Erdogan's German Facebook page consist of a lot of white space?"

        Doubtful, but I do get the impression that the European leaders would be all too happy to keep sending fines his way. And after he paid the government then problem solved I guess.

  8. Mage Silver badge

    widely assumed situation that social networks are an online free-for-all.

    Mainly a point of principle by the operators as they don't want to be regulated as publishers or media. They are.

    Your average "forum" takes more care about what is allowed to be published.

  9. ZenCoder
    FAIL

    Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

    Seriously?

    If Germany demands the right to censor the internet due to German law ... then there are 190+ countries ready to line up to follow suit. You know how many crazy censorship laws there are out there?

    Second point, define obvious. I'd like to see someone try to give a simple but accurate definition of what does and does not constitute obvious "defamation, slander, public prosecution, crimes, and threats" under German law. Shouldn't take more than a few pages to define, nor more than a few seconds for a support center drone to determine.

    So who is next? China, Turkey, Thailand?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

      Social media sites aren't 'the internet'. They're just the tabloid end. Clean them up and leave the rest alone.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

        Exactly. They ARE NOT the Internet, but like AOL back in they day, they want you to think they are.

        For profit organizations have no civil rights, they just want you to think they do.

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

        Social media sites aren't 'the internet'. They're just the tabloid end. Clean them up and leave the rest alone.
        Or... just ignore them...

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

      Second point, define obvious.

      An example cited was that the German government issued a travel warning for Sweden which never happened.

      I'm no fan of censorship but I understand the German legal and constitutional position on propaganda and hate speech and the law seems to fall within those bounds. It should also be noted that there are robust provisions for freedom of speech in general and satire in particular.

    3. Named coward

      Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

      intentional defamation according to german law in one sentence: "Whosoever intentionally and knowingly asserts or disseminates an untrue fact related to another person, which may defame him or negatively affect public opinion about him or endanger his creditworthiness"

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Hasn't history taught us to think twice before appeases the Germans?

        knowingly asserts or disseminates an untrue fact related to another person

        Fact: "Something that has really occurred or is actually the case; something certainly known to be of this character; hence, a particular truth known by actual observation or authentic testimony, as opposed to what is merely inferred, or to a conjecture or fiction [OED]

        Presumably the inscrutable German lawmakers have included a method to determine the difference between true truths and untrue truths... Or maybe not.

  10. nilfs2
    Childcatcher

    Censoring is not the solution...

    ...education is. Instead covering people's eyes to not see "bad things", the government should improve the education system to teach kids an teens not to be the idiots their irresponsible parents keep spawning and raising.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Education, Education, Education

      Re: Censoring is not the solution...

      Only if it's done correctly (and who defines that? the biggest brown envelope recipient?).

      In recent times wasn't there some well educated politcal twit (see what i did there) who used that as one of his catchphrases?

      Yet still managing to give out the entirely "fake news" that some middle eastern country "had weapons of mass destruction they could ready for use within 45 mins" and then proceeding to bomb the fuck out of them?

      Surely, if one is to be prosecuted for hate speech and fake news then we have a prime candidate there.

      A fine f*****g example and leader there,not, and anyone wonders why there is so much hatred around the place?

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Education, Education, Education

        Yet still managing to give out the entirely "fake news" that some middle eastern country "had weapons of mass destruction they could ready for use within 45 mins" and then proceeding to bomb the fuck out of them?
        Untrue truths? I wonder which the Iraqi populace would have preferred. Hate speech or having the fuck bombed out of them?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YouTube firmer than Facebook or Twitter? (Titter ye not!)

    "When it comes to YouTube, it has a much firmer policy than Facebook or Twitter and will take content down very quickly and require users to argue their case for putting it back up."

    Try telling that to all the people in the music industry who have ever tried to get YouTube to take down videos that are in breach of copyright. They appear to be happier to keep making their money from the ads they deliver with the content, irrespective of whether it is illegal or not.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: YouTube firmer than Facebook or Twitter? (Titter ye not!)

      Try telling that to all the people in the music industry who have ever tried to get YouTube to take down videos that are in breach of copyright.
      It is true that there are many musicians that would rather you never got to hear their music. Go figure!

      OTOH there are many fine musicians who appreciate the exposure youtube provides and subsequent sales.

      Alan Gogoll: Bell's Harmonic [Bell Harmonics Guitar Technique]

  12. DanceMan

    Re: Canada debating a bill that would criminalize Islamophobia

    Untrue. While this has been controversial, it has been reported numerous times in Canadian media as not being a legal proposal, not legislation, but more an expression of condemnation or opinion.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Canada debating a bill that would criminalize Islamophobia

        Making threats of violence has never been and never will be legal.

        To defend those threats is psychopathic.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Truckle The Uncivil

            Re: Canada debating a bill that would criminalize Islamophobia

            We have had this debate in Australia for a while and it is a non issue.

            <quote>However, if some snowflake claims that my saying that the Quran is full of violence, misogyny, child marriage, and intolerance toward other religions threatens their "emotional safety" or is equivalent to "speech inciting violence," they should seek counseling.</q>

            That claim would not stand up in court as the koran (and bible and, and ad nauseam) actually contains the items you mention.

            It is how you say it. Make it a statement of fact and there is no case to answer. Make it an emotion ridden tirade and it is hate speech. It is quite simple. It comes down to "mind your manners in public". Use reason not rancour.

            1. evilhippo

              Re: Canada debating a bill that would criminalize Islamophobia

              "That claim would not stand up in court as the koran (and bible and, and ad nauseam) actually contains the items you mention."

              Your faith in courts is touching. Once the state passes a law against hurt feelings (i.e. branding free speech "hate speech"), the truth of a statement becomes irrelevant, only what emotional effect the statement has.

      2. Gerhard Mack

        Re: Canada debating a bill that would criminalize Islamophobia

        "There is no right to country-wide enforcement of one point of view, as that is the sort of thing found in communist and fascist countries."

        Correction, Province wide. That bill is from the legislature of Quebec.

  13. arkhangelsk

    I live in China

    Technically, it's Hong Kong, but China is increasingly assertive about us being part of them, and not just in a formal way.

    Please, Germany, don't give China stupid ideas or grounds for rationalizing yet ANOTHER attack on freedom of speech. Do you realize every time one of you "free nations" makes any crimp on freedom of speech, China uses it as an excuse for another restriction?

    Think about your effect on the world...

  14. Number6

    First of all, what's the definition of fake news? For some it's anything critical of Trump, for others it's anything Trump claims as fact. Who gets to decide? Taking down fake news should also oblige the German state to prosecute those who posted it in the first place, otherwise they'll just do it again. Then you run into the problem that if someone in the US posts it, the US First Amendment gives them the right to do that, so an attempt by Germany to prosecute won't get very far. Then you'll get Iran trying to gte everyone to take down pictures of inappropriately-clad women and so on...

    I think I'd just stick a geolocation block on German IP addresses and solve the problem that way - if it isn't accessible in the country then they can't complain about it. I bet their citizens would complain about loss of access though.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      "I think I'd just stick a geolocation block on German IP addresses and solve the problem that way - if it isn't accessible in the country then they can't complain about it. I bet their citizens would complain about loss of access though."

      This.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      "First of all, what's the definition of fake news?"

      Lies claiming to be a news story. Things that are obviously pulled from someone's ass without a lick of evidence. Or stuff like "Queen Elizabeth is a reptilian alien bent on world domination".

      1. Number6

        How do you distinguish between satire and fake news? Sites such as The Onion have been posting stuff for many years which is very cleverly done and is just an on-line mirror of what comedians have been doing from before the internet.

    3. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Then you'll get Iran trying to gte everyone to take down pictures of inappropriately-clad women and so on...
      What complete and utter bastards! I hate that!

  15. Syntax Error

    Freedom

    Its erosion of freedom again. I think their concerns about Facebook and Twitter are hyped.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't mention the flame war

    I did once, but I think I got away with it...

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Don't mention the flame war

      > ... but I think I got away with it...

      Nein, nein, nein! ---------------------->

  17. Baldy50

    Ch-ch-ch-ch changes

    You get credit for that, in my book.

    MCMLXXXIV, nice reminder and I had to have a listen to the track 1984, just out of reverence and cos I hadn't for a long time, meandering a bit, dystopia here we come!

  18. evilhippo

    The only fake news that will be tolerated it official state sanctioned fake news. And of course the state is a fit institution to determine what people can say on-line, particularly the German state, what could possibly go wrong with that?

  19. hoola Silver badge

    Responsibility and Accountability

    What this is doing it attempting to make these global "Tech" companies accountable and responsible for the rubbish that moronic users post. Equally the users are just as culpable, but until the companies involved start getting hit, they will do nothing against the users.

    For far too long the likes of Facebook and Twitter have hidden behind corporate anonymity with the benefit of vast profits, employed the worst of the scumbag lawyers to avoid doing anything.

    Yes the fine is small fry but it is a start.

    The debacle with the BBC and the Facebook images is simply astonishing. Equally, the speed that material was removed after Yvette Copper raised when they were hauled in from of the committee shows how useless these companies are. It took a complaint from at committee before the buggers did anything.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Beginning of the End of the Beginning are Novel AI STARTreaties/is a Novel AI STARTreatise

    Surely all news is fake if its design further supports the hiding and obfuscation of vital/virile/viral facts and uncomfortable truths which corrupted and perverse systems would need to remain secret in order not to collapse and create revolutions and civil war events. The masses must increasingly be fed cake and pulp fiction by media in order to not entertain and educate them of that which they ought to know in order not to be enslaved and led by that which they have no command and control over.

    But for anyone to imagine that they can command and control and punish the purveyance of words to worlds with compensatory fines is a sure enough sign of the madness which would currently prevail and presume to be charge of your future and the direction of travel in these novel times and virtual spaces.

    And are these pictures painted in the few words above, not mirrored in and descriptors of your existence today?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "Free Speech" is not a "Safe Place"

    Its simple really, if you dont turn up for the argument then you lose.

    You try to censor something and it simply goes underground, But it DOESNT go away and then its more likely to come back and bite you in the rear 'seemingly' out of no where.

    Sorry but this is simply the wrong thing to do, regardless of how well intentioned they are.

    Things do not get better if we refuse to talk, yell & scream to each other.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: "Free Speech" is not a "Safe Place"

      > Its simple really, if you dont turn up for the argument then you lose.

      And if you do turn up for the argument you give credence to every idea, no matter how ludicrous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Free Speech" is not a "Safe Place"

        And if you do turn up for the argument you give credence to every idea, no matter how ludicrous.

        No, that's what happens when you silence the debate. People start quietly murmuring that the reason you won't face it head on is that you know you'll lose. We've seen where that leads in quite a few recent votes.

  22. Moosh
    Paris Hilton

    "Fake News"

    What does this cover?

    Things they disagree with or officially say isn't happening?

    Isn't this just outright censorship?

    Does this extend to parody sites?

    Does it count CNN?

    1. BOH1066

      Re: "Fake News"

      does it count fox? (ftfy)

  23. P0l0nium

    Does this apply to posts in Welsh ??

    And what happens when I post "fake news" in Navaho ??

  24. Polardog

    You will tow the party line,or else.

  25. TheTick
    Thumb Down

    Scary

    The most worrying thing about this is the amount of comments supporting the krauts in this.

    Krauts? Whoops is that a hate crime.

    Ridiculous.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suppression of free speech Erich Honecker would be proud of.

    1. GrapeBunch

      "Suppression of free speech Erich Honecker would be proud of."

      I was thinking that facebook will have ample data to compare the efficiency of their 700 agents, in a city that has hosted several agencies in the past century or so. I wonder what the gold standard of efficiency even is? Probably not the Stasi, because when the State becomes a Surveillance State, there's hardly room for much else. No, I'd guess it would be one of the earlier agencies, despite the less-developed technology.

  27. David Nash

    Free Speech

    If Twitter don't want you, it's not a suppression of your free speech. Twitter and Facebook are private corporations, they can allow or bar whoever they want, and choose not to publish whatever they choose.

    1. 22ten

      Re: Free Speech

      Governments who feel their public support them embrace free speech whereas governments who feel threatened by the opinions of the general public will often resort to censorship typically with vague definitions so news they don't like or adverse political opinion can be suppressed usually under the banner of protecting the public (although in reality governments protecting itself from the public)

    2. BOH1066

      Re: Free Speech

      yes, twitter and fb are private companies but, with regard to this specific example, it isn't twitter or fb making the request. it's government threatening action against twitter and fb, if certain 'speech' isn't removed. if the government takes punitive action because of what an individual posts online, whether it's taken against the individual or against the site on which the individual posts, it is very much a suppression of free speech. i loathe the lies and hate which are spread so overtly but i also think it is a VERY BAD IDEA to start censoring what can or can't be said.

  28. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    And so it starts ...

    Government taking back control of what people are permitted to hear after the Internet did so much damage to the effectiveness of media control. "Fake news" and "Hate speech" will inevitably end up being "Anything the government doesn't like," and will include inconvenient truths, any doctrine other than that of those in power and whistle-blowing. As soon as you threaten large penalties for failing to remove something that the government might consider is against its nebulous rules, you will have gross over-censorship taking place in order to err on the side of caution.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: And so it starts ... more Troubles?

      Cynic_999,

      It would be well for government to remember how very badly that sort of sub-prime programming worked in Northern Ireland whenever they ventured to try and gag the rhetoric of Sinn Fein. Do you know of the Troubles and what it leads to? Bombs and bullets, death and destruction aplenty.

  29. AndrewDu

    Cynic_999 posted while I was writing this...but I'll leave it up anyway, since it can't be said too often...

    At what point does "hate speech" morph into "fake news" and then into "anything tptb disagree with" and then into "anything that the people in charge don't want talked about"?

    This is a very dangerous road to start down; pretty soon we're back to just hearing and knowing what the state and its satraps want us to hear and know.

  30. KSan

    Oh no

    I am so embarrassed being a German. The German government does everything possible at the moment to limit free expression of opinions. It feels like a totalitarian state is rising its ugly head.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Oh no

      I am so embarrassed being a German. The German government does everything possible at the moment to limit free expression of opinions. It feels like a totalitarian state is rising its ugly head.

      I am so pleased to see that. I've often wondered if anyone else looks at these laws that the German governments have enacted "because of the problems of the 1930's" and thought "These laws are somehow reminiscent of those times". It may be a slower process, but it looks much the same.

      I am glad I am not alone in seeing this.

      As to feeling ashamed about your country...I am a Kiwi, You don't really have that much to be embarrassed about!

  31. RichCoons

    How is $53M a deterrent? Seems like a daily or number of occurrence fine would get their attention.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how this relates to Pakistan taking steps against FB et al. if they don't identify blasphemers so the state can execute them?

  33. Kiwi Silver badge

    No. Not a crime.

    I write this as a person who received a ton of abuse growing up, simply because I was "different". Some because I was poor but most because I was gay. Not even effeminate gay, simply preferred boys to girls.

    Freedom of speech is one of our most important freedoms in those countries that have some semblance of it.

    If we don't like something, it is important to be able to say so. If we want to fund an organisation that supports our views, that should be our right. How would the "gay rights" movements had fared if no one was ever allowed to speak out, organise, fund events and so on? Or even earlier, the anti-slavery movements? If it was even illegal to make comments in support of these things, where would we be today?

    If I find someone spouting anti-gay drivel somewhere, I get the chance to do something about it. Their freedom of speech gives me a chance to do something to challenge and maybe change their views (and I have been able to do so in some cases). Giving people a public place so say what they wish gives some chance of those views being challenged, but where people are forced to bottle up their ideas, or only speak of them in very closed groups, well.. When people form small groups and say what is truly felt ONLY in those places it reinforces the "us vs them" attitudes and strengthens their view that what they believe is right and everyone else is wrong. Sometimes this can lead to violence against others, as is supposedly seen with some far-right groups and the likes of the KKK (I say "supposedly" because I only have western media to go on, and lets just say that the NZ news media are not fans of accurate reporting! - and I am also aware of claims that some law officers have carried out "false flag" type events to give the other side a worse name (not saying I believe them all just that I believe it is possible)

    It would be better for everyone if things could be said openly, and freely. In direct bullying of an individual then sure, FB et al should act to help out, but the ability to block such messages by individuals rather than to have the abusers cut of should take precedence.

    And again, I write this as one who had at least planned suicide before my 10th birthday, as a result of what I was being put through by my peers.

    Wish I'd got on to this article when I first opened the tab nearly a week ago!

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