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Germany threatens Facebook, others with €50M fine in hate speech crackdown

Germany proposed a bill that would impose fines of as much as €50 million on Facebook Inc. and other social media companies, for failing to provide users an option to report hate speech and fake news, Bloomberg News reported April 5.

The bill's revised version also includes measures that would force social networks to remove content that displays child pornography or incites terrorism. Furthermore, corporate officials responsible for removing the content could be asked to pay separate fines of up to €5 million.

Facebook reportedly said the measure would put on private companies, instead of courts, the burden of deciding which content is illegal in Germany. The social networking giant, which earlier resolved to seek help from third-party fact-checking groups to tackle misinformation, is also planning to tap into artificial intelligence to curb terrorism-related content and set community standards for its platform.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the German government's ruling coalition wants the measure adopted before the Sept. 24 federal election, according to the report.

Germany also wanted to fine Facebook with up to €500,000 for every hate speech or fake news post it fails to remove from its platform within a 24-hour period.