Hate-Comments, right of expression or online offense, defamation, threats? In the era of internet and social media monitoring it´s so common to bump into hate speeches, hate comments, offensive messages and so much more and most of people thank that they are just making use of their right of expression. Just online and with a bit of rage… but for most of them is just how things goes nowadays, is how communication takes place. Online.

The internet world is however not free of laws and the internet legal framework is getting more and more attention. Social networks in particular are currently coming under pressure to take stronger action against hate speech.

Just take as an example the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: a trial keeping the world trapped and the internet teems of hatred message against one of the other party of the such famous court case.

Those who want to stand up against hate on the internet should first question themselves. Only those who speak and write without prejudice can point the finger at others.

But what you can legally do if you discover or if you are a victim yourself of an hate comment? 

No matter whether you are the victim yourself or have discovered offensive remarks in some other way – dare to report hate speech. This is possible in all social networks and internet forums via the report function. On Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, use can be made of the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), also called the Facebook Act. Illegal content under the Act includes, among other things, insult, defamation, slander and threats.

In Germany, for instance, the Criminal Code (StGB) prohibits the use of symbols (signs, lettering, pictures, etc.) of unconstitutional organisations (section 86a). The use of these symbols is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

Since a couple of years the Network Enforcement Act already stipulates that hate comments must be deleted from the internet. In future, the operators of Facebook & Co will have to report the corresponding entries to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) so that they can be prosecuted by the investigating authorities. This includes death threats, incitement of the people and depictions of violence, the approval of criminal offences as well as the distribution of child pornography. The obligation to report also covers the dissemination of propaganda material and the use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations, the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state and the support of criminal and terrorist organisations.

However, not everything that is punishable will also be reportable: insults, defamation and slander are not among them. The reason: As before, it is to be left up to the persons concerned whether they want to be prosecuted or not. That is why these offences have the status of an “application offence” in German law. However, network operators must explain to users that they can file a criminal complaint against a hate posting.

Do you have any queries about this very actual topic? Get in touch with us. It’s easy. 

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