Social Apps Get Stick in Germany: Is India Ready to Face the Heat?
Social media sites are in trouble as Germany threatens to fine them over failure to curb hate speech.
Social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter could have tough days ahead of them in Germany.
In a swift response to tackle the problem of hate speech on networking sites, Germany’s Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection has proposed a law which would impose a fine of up to 50 million Euros on Facebook and Twitter if they don’t expedite the process of curbing slanderous and threatening posts on their platforms.
How Social Networks Currently Tackle The Problem
It’s not that social networks have been ignoring these issues. They have been quite proactive in improving technology on their sites to detect and remove abusive content.
A survey by the Justice Ministry's youth protection agency found that YouTube was able to remove around 90% of illegal postings within a week. Facebook, on the other hand, deleted or blocked just 39% of content deemed criminal under the law.
Surprisingly, Twitter has only been able to remove roughly 1% of this content, which is clearly not acceptable.
But there have been additional efforts to curb this problem.
Facebook has taken the initiative to add tools for reporting revenge porn and to prevent images from being shared once they have been banned. Revenge porn is defined as any intimate photo shared without permission.
With so many OTT (over-the-top) services like Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp available on smartphones, thereby bypassing traditional distribution systems, they become very difficult to monitor and regulate.
So do Indian telecom operators play a role in regulating OTT apps, the way German operators do? Not really!
But what has emerged as a serious issue in Germany could very well reach Indian shores soon.
In India, a legal procedure is necessary to avoid over-broad censorship, otherwise anyone can send a notice to a website and the issued party, under fear of scrutiny, will take the content down. There always needs to be state-recognised judicial finding to effect punishment.Apar Gupta, Advocate
With such a large user base of smartphones in India, OTT services thrive in big numbers. If so many impositions and regulations are put into effect, the whole idea of social apps and interactive platforms is rendered completely moot – which is something worth considering.
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