After a rocky start right out of the gate, German politicians are looking to modify the controversial online hate speech law, known as NetzDG, that went into effect on January 1 with clearer guides and new tools to take some pressure off social media sites.
Under the current law, companies like Facebook can face fines of up to 50 million euros ($61 million) if they do not remove banned content within 24 hours. What is considered “banned” content has been an intense topic of debate and the wide grey area has led sites to err on the side of caution and delete material that many users felt was unnecessary.
Facebook currently staffs 1,200 content moderators in Germany with the sole job of monitoring hate speech or content. The current law does allow for outside help, but with the proposed revisions, the law would make it even easier for companies to set up or utilize independent third parties to decide what is or isn’t a violation of the NetzDG.
Another complaint that arose after NetzDG went into effect is from the users who find their content deleted. Currently, there is no way to restore unjustly deleted content or even properly contest the takedown. With the refined law, a provision would be added to require ways for users to have their content restored if it is found to not be an actual violation of the law.
Since going into effect this year, the Federal Office of Justice has said that the number of online complaints about companies not deleting reported content was much lower than expected. Before going into effect, officials were expecting roughly 25,000 complaints in the first year, yet in January and February, the office only saw a total of 205.