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German police raided 36 homes over hateful Facebook posts


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German police are cracking down on what they perceive to be threats, coercion, and incitement to hatred in online posts. Yesterday, police raided 36 people’s homes over social media posts that allegedly contained hateful content, according to a press release from the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany.

The police say that most of the accused posted politically motivated content, but one incident involved someone attacking the sexual orientation of a victim. The raid was arranged as a specific day against internet hate posts, which the force apparently participated in last year, too. German social media users are subject to punishment if they post illegal content, and incitement to hatred is illegal in Germany.

The New York Times reports that the raid comes as the country debates a new social media law that’s designed to crack down on hate speech, although it’s unclear whether it’ll be able to pass. Some experts told the paper that they believe it’ll be deemed unconstitutional. The statute would force social media networks to take “obvious criminal content” down within 24 hours of its posting. These outlets would have a week to decide on cases that aren’t as clear. Failing to comply with the law would result in the companies being fined up to $53 million (€50 million).

Facebook issued a statement when the law was proposed and said: “The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fines.”

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