June 30, 2017
The German Bundestag (parliament) has voted to implement a law which would impose a fine of €50million to social media companies who failed to remove so-called “hate speech” and so-called “fake news”.
According to the law, social media companies would have just 24 hours to comply with the German government’s edict before the monumental fine would be issued.
This legislation is not only poorly conceived, almost impossible to enforce and excessive in its punitive stance towards private enterprise, but it is just plain wrong.
Laws which predate the invention of the internet make it so that issuing a criminal threat is illegal. This goes for threats written on poster-board, graffiti, obscene art exhibitions, digital statements or oral pronouncements.
This is as far as any such law needs to go. Hate is not a threat, it is merely the expression of a feeling or viewpoint. It is legal to dislike things, it is legal to hate things, it is legal to feel such hatred without having to intellectually justify it.
But these basic principles of modern law in the civilised world seem to be lost on an increasingly tyrannical German regime.
Even if one felt that expressing hatred or ‘fake news’ was a some sort of crime, the law does not define such things. Is it acceptable to hate Russia but not hate the EU? Would a pro-Russian Brexit supporter living in Germany (and yes, there are many such people) therefore be engaged in ‘hate speech’?
Is it acceptable to hate Palestine but not Israel? Is it acceptable to hate veterinarian food but not hate ham sandwiches? Is it acceptable to hate ugly people but not to hate people who have had plastic surgery?
Are Donald Trump’s statements which infuriate liberals now hate speech for which Twitter can be fined millions of Euros?
What about people who find it hateful that images of heterodox sexual propaganda are spread by major western corporations and governments to corrupt the minds of the young? Will their definition of hate speech be taken into account?
None of these questions are answered by the Germany lawmakers.
Also in respect of ‘fake news’ covered by the law, whose fake news? Should social media owners be fined when people post CNN stories about ‘Russiagate’ because this is by CNN workers own admission fake news?
When state-run British broadcaster BBC posts bogus stories about the Syrian government, will this incur a fake news fine?
While Facebook has condemned Germany’s move, this is merely a matter of Facebook’s self-interest in knowing that they could be fined for failing to censor something which goes against the wishes of Germany’s political narrative. Facebook already takes it upon itself to censor people whose sense of humour does not correspond with Facebook’s own ultra-liberal narrative.
As with most things in life, one man’s fake news is another man’s truth, one man’s idea of hate is another one’s idea of joy. If the German regime is to be the final arbiter of truth and taste, social media won’t really be social media at all, it will simply be statements that the German regime deems to be good and healthy according to its own very narrow narrative, one that the majority of the planet finds both hateful and fake.