Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Germans shooting the messenger

By their logic, if I put up a notice board and somebody writes something bad on it, I am the guilty party rather than the writer. Are they too afraid to come down on people many Germans would agree with?

Prosecutors in Hamburg have opened another investigation into a top German Facebook executive over complaints alleging that the site facilitates incitement of hatred, Der Spiegel reported.

According to Der Spiegel, Hamburg's state prosecutors' office are investigating Martin Ott, Facebook's managing director for Northern, Central and Eastern Europe.

Prosecutors said last month that they were investigating three Facebook Germany GmbH managers to decide whether to press charges.

A complaint had been filed by Bavarian lawyer Chan-jo Jun against the managers, pointing in particular to examples of hate speech and racism related to refugees, including posts that show Nazi symbols like swastikas and Hitler salutes, according to Die Welt.

It was the first time that Facebook managers have been targeted over hate comments on the site.

Under the German criminal code, the crime of incitement of hatred is punishable of up to five years in prison for encouraging violence or hatred towards others for their religious, racial or ethnic background.

Written comments are punishable with up to three years in prison, including those who disseminate them or make them accessible.

Prosecutors must still determine whether there is enough evidence to press charges against the executives.



Anonymous said...

When those in charge cannot catch the guilty, they punish everybody.

Stan B said...

This issue is also alive (but barely) in the United States. If website owners monitor the content of their sites, the question is are they then "publishers" of the content that they allow to get through?

In the case of a Newspaper, which has been traditionally edited, this is an easy call. In the case of a comments section on a blog or news site, the analogy is much harder to make. A lot of publishers refuse to monitor and censor content precisely because of the legal pitfalls that come from being called a "publisher."

Anonymous said...

Stan is talking about section 230 of Title 47 of the the US Code.

That section says:

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider"

Courts have generally agreed that if you regulate your comment section you are still not liable for the comments of others. However, that provision and view is under attack by generally everyone across the board who doesn't like what is said about them, a product, a group, etc.

Section 230 is important to the internet and more important to the exchange of idea.

European nations should learn that same ideal.