Governments start 2018 by cracking down on social media companies

Social media companies are having a rough start in 2018. Across the world, governments are cracking down on certain apps and the types of content that appears online.

Here’s what’s happening to social media companies in 2018.

Germany enforces new anti-hate speech law

On 1 January 2018, a new law came into effect in Germany requiring companies to investigate reports of illegal posts and delete them. This new Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) will affect companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.  

The new law will cover posts that appear on social media sites that features content including neo-Nazi propaganda, swastikas and Holocaust denials. This type of hate speech is illegal under German law, and the country’s government wants to ensure social media companies are taking down these posts.

NetzDG requires apps like Facebook investigate reports of such posts. The law states companies should either delete posts within 24 hours or act on the more complicated cases within seven days.

In addition, the German government has threatened social media companies with non-compliance fines of up to $57m.

Iran restricts Instagram and Telegram following protests

Iran is currently undergoing some of the biggest anti-government protests of the past 10 years. At least 20 people have been killed and 450 detained since the protests began last week. 

As a result, the country’s government has restricted social media networks, particularly Instagram and Telegram. Iran’s state news agency, Irib, reports that the “temporary restrictions” were imposed to “maintain tranquility.”

Telegram, a messaging app which is used by more than 50 percent of Iran’s population, refused to shut down peacefully protesting channels, according to its chief executive Pavel Durov. Durov took to Twitter to say that authorities were blocking access to the app as a result.

Footage and information about the anti-government protests were being spread using social media. This is why Iran is making moves to crack down on the proliferation of this information.

UK makes tax threats to social media companies

The other government starting on 2018 by taking on social media companies is the UK. Ben Wallace, the security minister, has threatened to increase taxes on social media giants if they aren’t doing more to prevent extremism online.

Online extremism is something UK prime minister Theresa May has been trying to curb during her reign. Wallace discussed the new plans in an interview with The Sunday Times

Wallace said:

“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions. They can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.”

Happy 2018 to Facebook, Google and Twitter.

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