The German government has taken action against Twitter for allegedly failing to address illegal content on its platform effectively. The Federal Office of Justice (BfJ) in Germany has initiated proceedings against the social media giant, accusing it of not properly handling reports of illegal content from its users.
Under the NetzDG law in Germany, social media companies with over two million registered users must promptly respond to user complaints about prohibited content and take necessary measures to remove it. For illegal content, the company must act within 24 hours, while for content that is less clearly in violation of the law, the response time is up to one week.
According to BfJ, Twitter is not following the guidelines mentioned under the law
The BfJ claims that Twitter has not been fulfilling its obligations under this law and is facing potential fines of up to €50 million. This move is part of Germany’s broader efforts to combat online hate speech and fake news, and other social media platforms, such as Facebook, have also been targeted under the NetzDG law.
Twitter has stated that it is committed to following the laws and regulations of the countries in which it operates but also acknowledges that there is always room for improvement in its efforts to tackle illegal content on its platform. The company has been addressing these issues, such as implementing new tools and policies better to handle user complaints and reports of prohibited content.
Illegal content on social media platforms can take various forms, such as hate speech, personal threats, defamation, and antisemitism. German law considers these types of content prohibited, and social media companies with many users must take prompt action to remove them when they receive user reports.
Despite Elon Musk’s commitment, the micro-blogging platform has been inconsistent lately
The BfJ mentioned in the statement, “The provider of Twitter is subject to the provisions of the NetzDG. The BfJ has sufficient indications that it has violated the legal obligation to deal with complaints about illegal content and that this is a systemic failure in the complaint management of the provider, which is subject to a fine.”
According to a statement from the BfJ, defamatory statements of opinion were made about an individual over four months. The person’s identity has not been disclosed. Although no fines have been imposed so far, companies have been forced to take action in response to the threat of penalties under German law.
Despite Elon Musk’s assurances that Twitter will follow local laws, its content moderation has been inconsistent lately. Musk has reduced the staff responsible for monitoring and addressing hate speech and harassment on the platform.