Germany’s Federal Office of Justice has opened proceedings against Twitter. It claims that Twitter has not adequately dealt with illegal content.
The NetzDG is a German law that requires social media companies with over two million users to Germany to report any prohibited content to the authorities and to take appropriate action.
If the material is ‘clearly illicit’, it must be reported within 24 hours and if less clear-cut violations of the law within one week.
Illegal content can include hate speech, defamation, and antisemitism.
“The NetzDG has made Twitter the provider. In a statement, the BfJ stated that there were sufficient indicators that Twitter’s provider violated its legal obligation.
The BfJ received numerous complaints about content published to Twitter by users. However, the BfJ did not delete or block the user’s complaint within the legal deadlines. This is the basis of the fines that were initiated.
According to BfJ the content in question was made over four months. It related only to one individual with’similar unjustified, defamatory opinions of opinion’. The identity of the individual concerned is not known.
Although there have not been any fines issued by the act yet, it has been sufficient to make companies act.
While Elon Musk repeatedly stated that Twitter would abide local laws, Twitter’s content moderation is a mess. Musk cut its staff to deal with harassment and hate speech, and has reduced the amount of people it employs.
Twitter already faces a German lawsuit over its content moderation policies. This was brought to you by HateAid, a digital rights group, and the European Union of Jewish Students. The company failed to delete six articles that were reported as antisemitic and trivialized or denied the Holocaust. Twitter’s inability to delete all of this content violates its policies regarding antisemitism.
Between now and next year, it’s believed that the EU has warned Twitter it needed to increase its content moderation staff in order to meet the Digital Services Act.
According to the BfJ, Twitter will be allowed to reply to it and they will take into consideration its responses. If it concludes that the allegations have merit, the BfJ will file a complaint to Bonn District Court for proceedings. Failure to comply with the rules can result in fines of up to €50 million.
Minister Marco Buschmann says that “the BfJ has enough evidence to show that Twitter violated its legal obligation to handle complaints regarding illegal content.”
The internet isn’t a lawless place. It is not acceptable for platforms to accept criminal content when they are used in a misused way.”