A new law meant to curtail hate speech on social media in Germany is stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted, the top-selling Bild newspaper said on Thursday.
The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly. Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and blocked a satirical account that parodied Islamophobia.
“Please spare us the thought police!” read a headline in Wednesday’s Bild above an article that called the law a “sin” against freedom of opinion enshrined in Germany’s constitution.
The law requires social media sites to delete or block obviously criminal content within 24 hours but Bild Editor-in-Chief Julian Reichelt said it could be applied against anything and anyone since there was no definition of what was “manifestly unlawful” in most cases.