A German satirical magazine’s Twitter account was blocked after it parodied anti-Muslim comments, the publication said on Wednesday, in what the national journalists association said showed the downside of a new law against online hate speech.
Titanic magazine was mocking Beatrix von Storch, a member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, who accused police of trying “to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men” by putting out a tweet in Arabic.
Twitter briefly suspended her account and prosecutors are examining if her comments amount to incitement to hatred.
So not only is the German government forcing social media companies to block their political opponents under the guise of counteracting online “hate speech”, the people doing the blocking are too dim to spot a parody account. How the Germans can’t see that such a law, in the hands of the wrong party, could be devastating is a mystery. I can only conclude such occurrences have no precedent in their country from which they could draw obvious lessons.
Titanic said on Wednesday its Twitter account had been blocked over the message, which it assumed was a result of a law that came into full force on Jan. 1 that can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on social media sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly.
A lot of people will rightly ask who defines hate speech. What they should be asking is how easy is it to change that definition.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are scrambling to adapt to the law, and its implementation is being closely watched after warnings that the threat of fines could prompt websites to block more content than necessary.
This is a feature, not a bug. The German government and those who would emulate them want the social media companies to self-censor everything that doesn’t explicitly conform to progressive standards of right-think. That way they can hold their hands up, adopt an innocent face, and say “We never told them to censor X, Y, Z”.
Merkel’s conservatives accused the AfD of undermining the post-war democratic consensus in Germany.
By winning so much support at the ballot box that she stands to lose her job?
“The racism that AfD lawmakers have been tweeting for days is intentionally violating, with criminal intent, the basic consensus which democrats have built up since 1949 despite all disagreements,” Armin Laschet, party deputy of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, tweeted.
There ought to be a law against it! Well, there is now. It’s ironic that a German politician coming out with this believes citing war-era precedents is an argument in his favour.