- Facebook will have to abide by German laws banning racist sentiment even if it might be allowed in the United States under freedom of speech, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with Reuters.
Maas, who has accused Facebook of doing too little to thwart racist and hate posts on its social media platform, said that Germany has zero tolerance for such expression and expects the US-based company to be more vigilant.
"One thing is clear: if Facebook wants to do business in Germany, then it must abide by German laws," Maas told Reuters. "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does."
Here's a question I'm not sure I have the answer to. Lets say I make a website that anyone in the world can visit, which says things in violation of German speech laws. Can I be held liable by a German court for that webpage? If I allow Germans to post speech on my page (in violation of speech laws), would I be forced to turn over identifying information to the German government? I know a while back Twitter turned over identifying information for French users who posted messages in violation of French speech laws. I'm assuming in a hypothetical case regarding violations of Chinese speech laws, they have a firewall and can control internet speech that way. I guess most western countries have to rely on the good faith cooperation between them and the largest social media platforms; either that, or Facebook must have German assets which are subject to judgement by German courts.
The article wasn't exactly clear about the specifics of the speech in question; the headline obviously implies anti-jewish or holocaust denial speech, whereas the body of the article specifically mentions protests regarding muslim refugees.
Also, I just have to laugh at the title image caption:
- People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo.