Facebook, Twitter, Google under fire across the pond
It has been widely reported that European governments such as Germany’s are attempting to curb the influence of fake news on upcoming elections by regulating social platforms. But that isn’t the only roadblock platforms are running into abroad; they are having to adapt to regulations that are more limiting than those in the US—against monopolies, and Tuesday, against hate speech.
This week, the German government threatened millions of dollars in fines against Facebook and Twitter, who are not doing enough, it says, to curb hate speech on their platforms. The companies had previously agreed to take down hate speech within 24 hours, but, as The New York Times reports, the platforms hugely undershot Germany’s expectations. Twitter managed to delete only 1 percent of flagged posts within 24 hours.
In the US, laws protecting speech are very broad—and content posted on platforms is not legally the responsibility of the platforms. But in Europe, speech is more closely regulated, and in Germany, inciting hatred against particular demographics is illegal on the grounds that it violates human dignity. In CJR’s archives, Aryah Neier unpacks the history of this difference.
Meanwhile, YouTube faced similar accusations from the UK Parliament over allowing a video that claimed “Jews admit organising white genocide.” The hearing took an emotional turn when, as BuzzFeed reports, Labour MP David Winnick asked platform executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google: “Do you feel any shame at all?”
I chalk some of this perceived insensitivity to a culture clash with technology companies. But regardless, the sticky territory of free speech is not likely to disappear from headlines soon.
Other notable stories
- BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith warns those on the left to “Beware The False Temptations Of The Russia Story.”
- The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers reports that President Trump’s proposed budget includes deep cuts to public broadcasting (though they wouldn’t have much effect on PBS and NPR).
- Interesting job posting over at The New York Times: The paper is hiring an editor to run its newly created Reader Center, “a high-profile initiative that reflects The Times’s commitment to ensuring that our newsroom develops innovative new ways to interact with our growing audience.”
- Frustrated by the feeling that facts don’t matter? The Atlantic’s Julie Beck has a piece on why facts alone don’t change minds.
- Little of the international news you read would be possible without “fixers,” the people who provide translations, introductions, and innumerable other services to journalists in unfamiliar territory. In a piece for CJR, Joe Freeman reviews Unbylined, a new series that explores the lives of fixers around the world.