Germany to require social media sites to report hate speech

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FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, smartphone apps are shown, in Miami, USA. Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020, released a new set of standards aimed at protecting children’s online personal details privacy for social media sites, games and other online services. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

BERLIN (AP) — The German Cabinet has approved a bill that will require social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube to report certain hate speech to the police.

According to the bill passed by ministers Wednesday, internet companies will have to flag far-right propaganda, graphic portrayals of violence, murder or rape threats, posts indicating that someone is preparing a terrorist attack or distributing child sexual abuse images.

Social media sites are already required to delete such posts.

The measures, which still need to be approved by parliament, will also see the definition of criminal hate speech extended to include threats of rape or property damage and expressions of approval for serious crimes.

Crimes motivated by anti-Semitism will also result in increased sentences.

In a further measure, authorities will make it easier for politicians, volunteers and journalists to prevent others from obtaining their home addresses from public registers.

Jurists estimate the number of online hate speech cases in Germany each year to be in the six figures.

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