The new anti-hate speech law that went into effect in Germany on January 1 is proving to be a pain for not just right-wing politicians but now the media covering the news as well. Germany’s satirical magazine Titanic suddenly found themselves locked out of Twitter after the social network flagged the account as promoting hate-speech on Wednesday, using the NetzDG law as its reasoning.
What caused the trigger was the publications take on the recent news of AfD politician Beatrix von Storch having her account locked after sending a anti-Muslim tweet in response to a message posted by the Cologne police department on New Years Eve. As a response to the news, Titanic crafted up a mock tweet in which von Storch sends a message to police saying: “The last thing that I want is mollified barbarian, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men.”
Creating such content isn’t new for the satirical magazine and doing so falls well within the legal bounds of journalism in Germany, but as the tweet hit Twitter, the social media site took the same stance that they did with von Storch and locked the account.
Titanic magazine editor Tim Wolff wrote on the company’s website that they were “shocked” by Twitter’s decision and that Chancellor Angela Merkel and Justice Minister Heiko Maas assured the media that once the law was put into place, journalists would be protected from such actions taking place.
With two high-profile examples of the new law playing out, institutions such as The Association of German Journalists (DJV) are already speaking out to have the hate speech law reversed. “A private company based in the United States decides the boundaries of freedom of the press and opinion in Germany,” said DJV Chairman Frank Ueberall in a statement.
While the passing of the law was meant to serve an important purpose, it is becoming clear that the logistics of it still need some ironing out. Twitter and Facebook have had a rocky relationship with the German government before the law went into effect, and the result is beginning to look like both social media sites are just blocking anything reported to not only avoid the 50 million euros ($60 million) fine but also prove a point on censorship that they have been trying to make from the beginning.