One German official thinks that fake news and hate speech is so serious it ought to permanently bankrupt virtually anyone who is accused or convicted of either.
As reported by The Associated Press, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas – perhaps worried that there’s another Adolph Hitler waiting for the right moment to rebirth the Nazi Party via propaganda spread on social media – has proposed fines of up to 50 million euros, or about $53 million, for any social networking site that neglects to quickly police and remove anything deemed as “hate speech” or “fake news.”
While acknowledging that some social media sites have already begun cracking down on what they have described as hate speech, Maas said the effort isn’t satisfactory yet. He said research indicated that Twitter only deletes about one percent of so-called ‘illegal content’ that is flagged by users; he added that Facebook deletes about 39 percent of said content.
The AP noted further:
The proposal would require companies to provide a round-the-clock service for users to flag illegal content, which would have to be removed by the site within seven days. All copies of the content would also have to be deleted and social media companies would need to publish a quarterly report detailing how they have dealt with such material.
In addition, the proposal instructs social media sites to name someone specifically charged with taking down content and handling speech complaints, and if that person fails to do so quickly or adequately, he or she would then be subject to a personal fine of up to 5 million euros (about $5.3 million). (RELATED: Do College Students Hate Free Speech? Let’s Ask Them (Video))
Who would line up to take that job is anyone’s guess.
Oddly, Maas claimed his proposal would somehow not restrict the free speech protections already enshrined into German law, and it wouldn’t establish a “truth commission” of sorts to root out so-called fake news (which would include The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and others, from time to time).
Always eager to please Left-wing speech cops, Facebook eagerly acquiesced. “We have clear rules against hate speech and are working hard to remove such content from our platform,” the company said in a statement, in response to the German proposal.
While reasonable people can agree that some speech obviously qualifies as hateful – such as derogatory remarks about race, ethnicity, religion, sex and so forth – other speech some people have arbitrarily labeled as “hate speech” simply because they disagree with what’s being said.
For instance, on many American college campuses, anything a conservative says is branded as hateful, bigoted and, some would argue, slanderous. President Donald J. Trump can’t say a word about enforcing immigration law without being branded a racist. And this reporter has been mislabeled as being “hateful” simply for taking a political position that liberals don’t like.
So, that’s what makes “hate speech protection” measures like this German proposal such a slippery slope: While advocates keep telling us out of one side of their mouths they aren’t trying to suppress speech, that’s usually the end result.
In this era, speech suppression is becoming a real thing and, ironically, it is occurring most rapidly in supposed “free speech zones” in democratic countries including the United States. In recent months, one survey of college-age Millennials by Yale University found that an incredible 51 percent of students surveyed were okay with their school enacting “speech codes” that regulate speech for both students and faculty.
Worse, this generation of high schoolers is also conflicted about the First Amendment, with more than half saying speech should not be allowed if its “offensive.” (RELATED: Students Arrested For Handing Out Copies Of The Constitution)
But who gets to define what is and is not ‘offensive’? That’s the problem, isn’t it – when you put some person or some entity ‘in charge’ of deciding what people should and should not be offended by, then you put serious crimps on all speech.
That’s not what our founders intended. In fact, they adopted the First Amendment’s free-speech clause precisely because they wanted to protect speech some may find offensive.
Maas’ proposal might seem ridiculous now, but there is no doubt that the trend regarding free speech in Western democracies is one of suppression, not expansion. Frankly, it’s dangerous.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.