BERLIN, April 5 The German cabinet approved a
plan on Wednesday to fine social networks such as Facebook
up to 50 million euros ($53 million) if they do not
remove hateful postings quickly and to make them reveal the
identity of those behind the posts.
"There should be just as little tolerance for criminal
rabble rousing on social networks as on the street," Justice
Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement, adding that he would
seek to push for similar rules at a European level.
Germany already has some of the world's toughest hate speech
laws covering defamation, public incitement to commit crimes and
threats of violence, backed up by prison sentences for Holocaust
denial or inciting hatred against minorities.
The issue has taken on more urgency due to concern about the
spread of fake news and racist content on social media, with
many in Germany's political establishment worried it could
influence public opinion in this year's election campaign.
The draft law would give social networks 24 hours to delete
or block obviously criminal content and seven days to deal with
less clear-cut cases, with an obligation to report back to the
person who filed the complaint about how they handled the case.
Failure to comply with the law expected to be passed before
elections in September could see a company fined up to 50
million euros, and the company's chief representative in Germany
fined up to 5 million euros.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Thorsten Severin; Editing by