When Germany said they wanted to crack the whip on hate speech posted on social media, they apparently meant it as a raid on more than 60 homes was carried out on Wednesday over posts that were made to a private Facebook group.
Authorities from 25 police stations within 14 of Germany’s 16 states, organized the raid that targeted individuals suspected of posting anti-Semitic or far-right material on Facebook.
While this may sound a little bit like Big Brother watching over everything Germans do or say, Germany’s free speech laws do not apply to the promoting of Nazism, Holocaust denial, racial discrimination or inciting violence.
Holger Münch, president of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s federal police force, said in a statement:
“Today’s action makes it clear that police authorities of the federal and state governments act firmly against hate and incitement on the Internet, which have increased significantly in the wake of the European refugee situation. Attacks on refugee shelters are often the result of radicalization, which begins in social networks. We therefore need to consistently pursue and stop this criminal content on the net.”
Germany formed a special task force to crack down on hate speech in 2015, but struggled at first to get social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to fully assist. However, in December, Facebook, Twitter and Google all formed an agreement with the German government to actively remove hate speech with 24 hours of it being reported.