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Twitter Threatened With $50 Million Fine for Antisemitism, Threats, and More

Twitter app logo on an iPhone

Elon Musk is in trouble again after German law enforcement threatened to fine Twitter for at least $50 million dollars or more.

The Federal Office of Justice (BfJ) has warned that it will take legal action if the platform doesn’t remove content that it says is illegal. In the country, any network that has over two million users registered to it must remove any content that is flagged as being prohibited in line with its Network Enforcement Act.

According to Forbes, the act states that content that is “clearly illegal” must be removed within 24 hours of it being reported—or a week, if the legality of posts isn’t as clear. This includes hate speech, antisemitism, and personal threats.

The BfJ said in a statement, “The provider of Twitter is subject to the provisions of the NetzDG. The BfJ has sufficient indications that it has violated the legal obligation to deal with complaints about illegal content and that this is a systemic failure in the complaint management of the provider, which is subject to a fine.”

They said that there were “numerous” instances of content that was found to be illegal but was not removed. “Numerous content was reported to the BfJ that was published on Twitter, which the authority considers illegal and, despite user complaints, was not deleted or blocked by the provider within the legally stipulated periods. The fine proceedings initiated are based on this.”

They revealed that the content that was of concern related to one individual and was posted over a four-month period. What was posted was “similar, unjustified, defamatory statements of opinion.” However, the person has not been named.

Despite the threat being enough to get multiple companies to check and clear illegal content in the past and Musk stating that the network will comply with any local laws that may be in place, it may be hard for him to do so as he has, in the past few months, fired many of Twitter’s employees. This means that a lot more content on the app is going unmoderated than it was before Musk bought the social media network.

But this isn’t the only legal trouble that the bird app is currently facing. It is currently being sued by a digital rights group called HateAid, along with the European Union of Jewish Students, also from Germany, who say that there have been six instances of content being posted that has been reported for antisemitism but not removed. By not removing the content, which denies or trivializes the Holocaust, Twitter is going against its own rules.

The BfJ says that should allegations against the company be justified and Twitter fail to comply, they could face a fine of millions. However, they will give Twitter time to respond and will consider how they respond.

Marco Buschmann, Minister of Justice, said, “The internet is not a legal vacuum. Platforms must not simply accept it when their services are misused to disseminate criminal content.”

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Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.