Germany: Social Media Giants Must Censor, Or Pay Fines

Germany: Social Media Giants Must Censor, Or Pay Fines

While most truth seekers see the internet as the final frontier of unfiltered information, they also know that they are up against forces of censorship and news flow manipulation that are working toward making the internet as sterile as mainstream sources. A law recently passed by German courts censors social media platforms on a level that we haven’t seen before, and Angela Merkel has made no bones about wanting the law to be spread across the entire European Union.

At the heart of the law seems to be Angela Merkel’s persistence in pretending that her importation of Islam to Germany was and continues to be a good idea. Criticism of Merkel’s policies, particularly her acceptance of millions of Islamic ‘refugees,’ a highly controversial and widely-opposed agenda spread across member EU countries. Germany has always been the leader in the European Union, and they have led the way in fundamentally changing the demographics of its own country, insisting that other European nations do the same. Call a spade a spade: the results of European migrant policies have been disastrous.

Just don’t suggest as much on social media.

Instead of taking her lumps on the internet like most Western leaders who have held power in the internet age, Merkel has decided to take a more heavy-handed approach. The Gatestone Institute outlines the new law, which went into effect on October 1st. Essentially, the government could file a complaint claiming that a social media post qualifies as libel, slander, or inciting violence, and if the post is not removed within a week, the social media platform would face massive fines until it complied.

‘Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online "criminal offenses" such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint’ (Gatestone Institute)

Libel is ‘anything that is defamatory or that maliciously or damagingly misrepresents,’ in a written form. Slander is ‘a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report,’ typically issued verbally. The keys here are that these written or oral statements are either misrepresenting the truth or an outright lie meant to besmirch somebody’s name. Were that to be the true basis of this German law it might be palatable, but it’s not. The real issue with the German law is that the accuracy and truth of a given social media post are completely irrelevant.

This critical line, ‘regardless of whether the content is accurate or not,' is the addendum to the above excerpt that makes this German law so egregious. It is blatant, unabashed, Orwellian censorship, and it stands directly opposed to the freedom that Westerners supposedly have to express their opinion. Apparently, in Germany, it may no longer be legal to state facts, at least not on social media.

One must only complain that they feel a post qualifies as ‘libel, slander, defamation or incitement’ and the post must be removed within 24 hours, whether the complaint is valid or not. This is a law by the government, for the government. And, even in cases deemed ‘more complicated,' social media companies ‘receive seven days’ not to decide whether a post is truly libel or slander, but to comply with the government, regardless of the post’s validity. This is law. Whether within seven days, 24 hours, or even sooner, the content is going to be deleted, lest the social media companies face the reality that the ‘German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.’

It is a stunning, sobering step toward cleansing the internet of criticism, even of the fair sort, of Chancellor Angela Merkel and policies she has spearheaded which have greatly divided Germany and the EU. The issue that has most plagued Merkel’s tenure, the one that most contributed to the rise of the right-wing, anti-EU AfD party in the last election cycle, is immigration from Arab nations and the resulting culture clash between Germans and immigrants.

This is the rosy picture that a leaked German intelligence document painted of the immigration situation in the country, where the Muslim population now tops 6 million people.

‘"We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law. German security agencies are unable to deal with these imported security problems, and the resulting reactions from the German population.”’ (Gatestone Institute)

Such statements of fact would not be permitted on social media anymore in Germany. In terms of social media, the law represents the complete and utter death of free speech, a white-washing of the factual record in favor of the one the German government wants to exist. That is the first step toward 1984 – hell, that’s the primary theme in 1984 – and the law never should have been permitted to pass. It illustrates the massive power that Merkel, and the EU as a whole retain, and it is more than a bit concerning. Criticism of government is not just the fundamental right of the people, it is the Fourth Estate of checks and balances that the mainstream media long ago betrayed. Citizen media took on that role, but now they are being silenced by the long, financially crushing reach of the law. But the one-sided nature of the censorship is perhaps most concerning.

Gatestone highlights the double standard that exposes the true motives by the government to stanch widespread negativity toward the German migrant situation. It debunks the idea that ‘hate speech’ is at the core of the law. It is only politically dissenting speech, anti-EU and thus anti-Merkel speech, that is being censored.

Posts critical of Chancellor Merkel's migrant policies, for example, can be categorized as "Islamophobia", and are often found to violate "Community Standards", while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook's "Community Standards".

Merkel’s government has openly said they would like to see similar laws put into action in the rest of the EU, despite most member nations already having ‘community guidelines’ that are considered by most to be in breach of free speech rights. Britain’s Theresa May has indicated she is open to further crackdown on ‘extremist content’, a vague term that tends to mean any content that is critical of pro-EU government, true or not. High-ranking employees at the EU, too, have said they remain open to the potential for more restrictive censorship laws to be enacted.

‘The EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, recently said she might be willing to legislate in the future if the voluntary code of conduct does not produce the desired results.’ (Gatestone)

The ‘desired results’ being one version of the truth, a version that the EU finds suitable to their own interests, which appear to be the further import of Muslims who have been taking over European nations with horrendous results.

Social media is not the only way to get information out on the internet. But for so many independent journalists who make a living in part by utilizing sites like YouTube and Twitter, this law is a gigantic blow. But more significant are its implications on the ability for one to openly criticize their own government without being punished, regardless of the medium. This internet censorship under the phony guise of removing ‘extremist’ content is not a new phenomenon, but this is the most extreme move yet in the trend toward the death of free speech.