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German Minister: Facebook Should Be Treated Like a Media Company Rather Than a Technology Platform (reuters.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Germany's Justice Minister says he believes Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform, suggesting he favors moves to make social media groups criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech. Under a program that runs until March, German authorities are monitoring how many racist posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to take legislative measures if the results are still unsatisfactory by then. Maas has said the European Union needs to decide whether platform companies should be treated like radio or television stations, which can be held accountable for the content they publish. Under current EU guidelines Facebook and other social media networks are not liable for any criminal content or hate posts hosted on their platform. Instead, in May Facebook, Google's YouTube and Twitter signed the EU hate speech code, vowing to fight racism and xenophobia by reviewing the majority of hate speech notifications within 24 hours. But the code is voluntary not legally binding. The state justice ministers meeting in Berlin called on the government to take swift action against hate speech on the Internet. The ministers called for more transparency and said social media companies should be obliged to regularly publish figures on how many hate posts have been deleted. They also wanted more public information on how notifications are processed and the criteria behind the decision making. Facebook says it is a technology company, not a media company, that builds the tools to supply users with news and information but does not produce content.
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German Minister: Facebook Should Be Treated Like a Media Company Rather Than a Technology Platform

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  • I vote that Poland be retroactively punished for the disgusting xenophobia it showed towards Germany and the Soviet Union in WWII.

    Furthermore, the Ukraine shouldn't be allowed to get away with its Xenophobia against undocumented Russian immigration.

  • by ffkom ( 3519199 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @04:30PM (#53309541)
    Germany has more than enough laws already to persecute the authors of threats against others. All this new "hate speech" nonsense it just a disguise to introduce censorship, because that is so much more convenient than actually going after those who author criminal content, and it's especially useful the more vague you define "hate speech" so you can use it against any kind of opposition you do not like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aliquis ( 678370 )

      The problem isn't we dislike immigrants and don't want them here.

      The problem is the traitor politicians bring them in even though that is the case.

      They caused the situation. Admit the mistake, don't redo it and try to undo what has been done.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2016 @05:02PM (#53309851)

      Well, you're wrong and very naive. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

      Under strong influence by the US and with hindsight about the Weimarer Republic, after WW2 Germany was designed as a so-called "wehrhafte Demokratie", i.e. a democracy that can defend itself against both external and internal threats. That's the main reason why hate speech is prohibited Germany nowadays.

      The Nazis were able to rise in the Weimarer Republic for many reasons, and one of them was that they were able to poison the political climate by extraordinary hate speech and by roaming the streets and beating up political opponents. In fact, history has shown over and over that the line between hate speech and actual violent hate crimes is very thin, and once a certain threshold is reached, terror starts to reign and democracy must fail. (Terror doesn't mean what you might think it means in this context, like in occasional acts of "terrorism", it means a constant fear throughout the population that is spread by word and actions and can turn a free country into a totalitarian regime within just a few weeks or months.)

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        If Germany is now a mirror of the US, then you're talking bullshit. You don't need to defend a government like that from "hate" speech.

        The line between speech and actual crimes is a very big one. Conflating the two allows for precisely the kind of suppression of dissent that the Nazis were capable of achieving with thugs.

        The problem with Germany wasn't "some guy that said mean things", it was piss poor checks and balances. The Weimar constitution was a piece of crap.

        Who was responsible for that shit anyways

        • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @07:39AM (#53313127) Journal

          The line between speech and actual crimes is a very big one.

          No, it isn't. Seriously the so-called proponents of free speech on slashdot are among it's worst enemies.

          Why?

          Because you all keep trotting out the line about how speech doesn't do anything on it's own and is harmless. With defenders like you, free speech doesn't need enemies. The reason that free speech needs defending is precisely because words have immense power.

          How many soldiers did George Washington personally kill? Enough to overthrow an empire? Or did he instead use the power of speech to get enough people behind his cause for that to happen? Or if you prefer, Hitler never personally killed anyone, those 10 million murders attributed to him were entirely down to the power of speech.

          So speech is powerful and it is foolish to pretend that actions are unconnected to speech. If that were the case, then speech would not be important enough to be worth defending.

      • The Nazis were able to rise in the Weimarer Republic for many reasons, and one of them was that they were able to poison the political climate by extraordinary hate speech and by roaming the streets and beating up political opponents.

        No. That's two of them, and one of them is much more important than the other. If the law had gone after them for beating up political opponents, then their hate speech would have been recognized for what it was instead of turned into an effective tool of terrorism and fear. Like it or not, the German authorities were complicit in the Nazi rise to power.

      • I don't know if you are German, but I'm an American who has tried to follow European news on what is happening with the migrant issue. What I see is a people who are more prone to law and order and obedience than Americans actually doing things like firebombing buildings, knifing politicians and such. Germany is now starting to go down a very interesting path, and if Merkel gets her way much longer I suspect that path will include electing leaders who make Trump look like he favors open borders. She wags he

      • by bytesex ( 112972 )

        "The Nazis were able to rise in the Weimarer Republic for many reasons, and one of them was that they were able to poison the political climate by extraordinary hate speech and by roaming the streets and beating up political opponents."

        I don't know if you're doing this as a rhetorical trick (that would be ironic!) but your 'and' in this sentence conflates using speech and beating people up (because you seem to suggest that the Nazis used other tricks as well, so this is, as it were 'one item on the list').

    • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @05:09PM (#53309929) Journal
      It's funny but the leadership there seems to be ignoring the brexit/trumparica message and continues to double down on these kind of things. They shouldn't be surprised when more right wing political groups are elected.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      it's especially useful the more vague you define "hate speech" so you can use it against any kind of opposition you do not like.

      So when do we get to drag someone posting #KillAllMen on Twitter into court?

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Laws against hate speech are not new, the US is the anomaly and one wonders whether the correlation of high levels of mistreatment of minorities when compared to other western countries may be related...
      • Which other Western Countries? Canada and Mexico? Well then, you are probably correct, as you wont find many non-tourist minorities in Mexico... and Canada is where all those mistreated minorities flee to.
        • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @10:29PM (#53311689) Journal

          Which other Western Countries?

          All of them? - Most EU nations, the UK, Canada, Australia, and NZ all have hate speech laws. There is no nation on earth that has absolute free speech, even the US bans certain types of speech such as the classic "yelling fire in a theatre" and the eternally popular prohibition on child porn.

          • The EU is a rising PC-police-state, with backroom Umbridge-like power-mongers making unquestionable laws without any public authorization. BAD example if you're promoting this...

            The speech act of yelling fire in a theater isn't what's specifically banned. Any act that recklessly provokes a riot is illegal. Same as telling a gunman to fire can be an act of murder. It's not the speech that's illegal, just what's done with it, which applies to any act. "Hate speech" is something else entirely. You're conflat
          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            All of them? - Most EU nations, the UK, Canada, Australia, and NZ all have hate speech laws. There is no nation on earth that has absolute free speech, even the US bans certain types of speech such as the classic "yelling fire in a theatre" and the eternally popular prohibition on child porn.

            Except that hate speech laws are used to censor and coerce people. That's what's happening here in Canada. One of the previous heads of the CHRC fabricated evidence to use against his political enemies(people speaking out about islam and it's abuse of women). That went on for years until the people had enough money to actually file a lawsuit. We're seeing that with the "gender pronoun" bullshit today. The current government is pushing through a law if you don't call someone by their pronoun it's hate s

    • by Anonymous Coward

      12,5 million Germans or 16% live in poverty. This is a rich country with a surplus of 30 billion euro. There are a lot of working poor. There are a lot of retired people with a job living in poverty. While there are lots of working poor with 2-3 jobs the government decides to import over a million low skilled immigrants who get free houses, free money, free education and are guided to a job. The plan is (was?) to import millions extra immigrants with a minister telling that Germans are genetic weak, are in

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Germany will revert to its post 1945 laws in the West. Total control over anything that could endanger "democracy".
      No communists, no fascism, no cults that are incompatible with democracy.
      No commenting on German gov or mil or BND or BfV policy or what happened after "free" speech is attempted.
    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      The biggest problem is that it don't work.
      Yes, you can stop someone from saying something on a platform you can control, like facebook.
      But anyone can just go, set up an encrypted IRC server and make a tiny hate box anywhere, and on those, shit gets worse because there's no criticism, no sanity, and you get also censored, but for going against the hate message.
      If you really want to reduce those hate speeches on the internet, you need to fight it with discussion, good arguments.and impartial a trustworthy med

    • by Chrisje ( 471362 )

      I wonder why such a misinformed and misleading post is deemed insightful by forum members.

      Firstly, in most European countries, the right to free speech is not actually legally or even constitutionally enshrined. There is the usual right to assembly, free thought and a freedom to adhere to any creed one wishes, but in most European countries Slander, Inciting to Hate or public unrest and Defamation are all illegal under criminal law, mind you. Therefore, as a default, there are legal limitations to how free

      • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
        It's weird how you connect the current censorship of speech in Germany to experiences in the Weimarer Republik. You should know, that back then, there was a lot of censorship applied to the media by government officials. Much more than today. And look how this did not quite prevent the Nazis to rise.
    • Hate speech is probably a bad translation of Wiederbetätigung. Also what FB does falls under obstruction of justice as well as assisting in a crime.

  • Must be the case since they've moved on to worrying about lesser issues like what their citizens post on social media websites.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      well, we've seen what happens if those posts are not regulated: someone like Trump gets elected.

      SCNR

  • I thought Germans were a bit quicker than that.

    • I thought Germans were a bit quicker than that.

      Fantastic engineers, terrible neighbors. Why does all the fisting and shit porn come out of Germany, anyway? I mean, I'm only opposed to one of those things (ironic to some, given my nickname, but it's about booze and not about bombing toilets) but seriously. Germany is fucking weird. Literally.

  • a giant fraud, siphoning off billions in employee wages and lost productivity from companies all over the globe into free content for Facebook. I watch people sitting at work posting on Facebook and the realization is that their employer is literally paying them to generate content for Facebook.
    • "I watch people sitting at work posting on Facebook and the realization is that their employer is literally paying them to generate content for Facebook."

      Since those people is most probably using company-provided devices and bandwith, if it's really such a big nuisance for the company, they could easily block facebook access, couldn't they?

      So, those companies are either moronic -therefore deserving what they get, or don't mind that kind of usage -therefore, why should you bother?

      • Not really - there are legitimate business uses for Facebook - social media posts, marketing research, and advertising etc. So you have to have finely granular control over who is and is not authorized to use Facebook. Also you run the risk of pissing off your employees because you are clamping down on internet access. You have to pick your battles as a manager.
  • Merkel kissing up to Obama's wanting "creating places where people can say, this is reliable" . Along with the media reporting fake news about fake news. CBS quoting a study from Buzzfeed, fucking Buzzfeed. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fa... [cbsnews.com] .

    Obama and Merkel are a bit too close http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix... [dailymail.co.uk]

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Note the fake, fake news in that article. Yes, Hillary Clinton did sell arms and munitions to Saudi Arabia, knowing full well that Saudi Arabia would be giving those arms and munitions to ISIS and her emails exposed that. So to say Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS is pretty accurate and they simply did this via an intermediary, Saudi Arabia (they supplied the cash, that cash going to the Clinton Foundation and US War industries).

      Censorship is not the way, a protected space is. What to add the word Ne

    • Along with the media reporting fake news about fake news. CBS quoting a study from Buzzfeed

      The NYT, WP, NPR, etc. just don't understand that people stopped listening to them because they have about the same level of independence and veracity as the old Pravda. If you need a recent example of that, look at the fake news about Bannon's supposed antisemitism and the egg all these media sites ended up with all over their faces.

  • Instead, in May Facebook, Google's YouTube and Twitter signed the EU hate speech code, vowing to fight racism and xenophobia by reviewing the majority of hate speech notifications within 24 hours

    OK, so now "hate speech" is equal to "racism and xenophobia". Well, we already knew that to be true on Twitter where #killallwhitemen is perfectly fine, but it's nice to know that it's also true on YouTube and Facebook. They want a Trump in Europe too?

  • The recent US election has shown us that forcing people to be civil does not also force them to "not hate" each other.

    What it appears to have done is driven much of that hate out of sight -- and thus out of discussion. One of the things we're struggling with right now is understanding the distinctions between
    * who really hates who
    * who doesn't care about "hate speech" being used so long as other political goals are met
    * who doesn't really believe it is hate speech
    * who doesn't hate other people

    Yes, the diff

    • You may or may not be right in what you are saying about this particular issue, but I think you are speaking from a background of a particular interest: you think freedom of speech is more important than other considerations in society. I am not here expressing any personal opinion about this, only pointing out the context. It is important to keep in mind that government and state are there to serve the whole of their people - ie. ideally all participants in society - not just certain interest groups, and i

    • Even if you forbid people to speak up they still can act on their beliefs. The only thing that forced political correctness accomplishes is burying problems under the rug. With it you don't know what people really think. So you can't address their concerns. Hate doesn't appear from nothing. It has its own social or economic roots, and with enforced doublespeak rules in action the government and other concerned parties can't get to the root of issues. It allows them to pretend that nothing is happening. But
  • And only 3 hours since the last story, and 18 hours since the one before that.
    This is supposed to be news for nerds, not news for Kardashian groupies...
  • by tietokone-olmi ( 26595 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @09:44PM (#53311513)

    In an era where computer technology underlies any and all business and other organized operations, it's quite clear that companies shouldn't be able to pass for "technology companies" simply because they implemented their own platform. Rather, the term should be reserved for those companies who have no other business besides making and selling hardware, software, and support services for the two.

    For example, this makes Uber a taxi company, and Airbnb a hotel company, subject to the rules and regulations of those industries -- rather than being able to make up their own rules with "independent contractors" and "helping letters and renters meet (while handling customer service, cash transactions, and taking a cut in the middle)".

    However you feel about the German censorship legislation, the above should stand in any nation where rule of law trumps neoliberalist contract-brokering; which in a liberal democracy it should.

  • Germany's Justice Minister says he believes Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform, suggesting he favors moves to make social media groups criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

    It also means making Facebook criminally liable when anybody says anything disrespectful about German politicians, and that's, of course, the main reason for why he is doing this: the German powers-that-be don't like being criticized by common folks.

  • ...FB has become a second-rate media company. Not many media companies get their own news these days. They get it from other sources; local newspapers and TV, press wire services, official govt. statements, etc. and then put their own spin on other journalists' stories, AKA churnalism. Facebook makes its money via the same process by getting its users to do it for free. Just because FB exercises almost no editorial control, doesn't mean that they're not responsible.

    And hate speech is hate speech. Stopping p

    • And hate speech is hate speech. Stopping people from inciting hatred, prejudices, marginalising vulnerable minorities, etc. is a reasonable requirement of any civilised society.

      The British Empire and Nazi Germany were both quite civilized. Thanks, but I prefer to live in a free country, as opposed to a "civilized" country.

      • Didn't take us long to prove Godwin's Law, did it?

        Re: free country, "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without knowing civilization." (Unknown, possibly James Agate) - I guess you're right.

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