Everyone knows that social media is not for the faint of heart. While there is certainly a lot of good and encouraging posts on sites like Facebook, it can also bring out the worst in people. Facebook and Twitter are finding that they might be held responsible for certain racist posts that are made by users since they didn’t take them down fast enough for the Justice Minister of Germany.
Heiko Maas was discussing the rapid spread of hate speech online, and specifically on social media sites, and indicated that social media sites aren’t doing enough to take down these types of posts. With more and more people making racist comments online, many are calling for the enforcement of certain laws that make incitement to hatred or glorifying Nazism crimes.
One of the biggest issues that is being complained about is that Facebook and Twitter don’t take down reported posts quickly enough, or many times at all. When a normal user reports a post as being racist, Facebook only takes down the post in 46% of the cases. Twitter takes down just 1% of the posts.
Mr. Hass commented on this saying, “The sword of Damocles is hanging over the social media, and they still have time to prove that we don’t need to make it their statutory obligation.”
This is a clear indication that Germany is saying they can, and will if necessary; take legal steps to stop this type of hate speech if the social networks don’t take care of it themselves.
Of course, social networking sites are caught in a difficult position. These sites are popular largely because of the people’s freedom of speech on them, so taking down posts just because they are offensive goes against this. It is really a hard line to walk.
While very few marketers are going to be using racist posts as part of their strategy (hopefully), it is always a concern when social media platforms are being forced to crack down on any type of speech. You never know how far it will go in the future.