German Police Have Started Raiding Homes in Response to Online Hate Speech
Germany have been very clear on their zero tolerance stance on hate speech. They've leant heavily on Facebook to approach it with a firmer hand, even going so far as to threaten them with hefty fines, and now it seems like they're taking matters into their own hands. On Tuesday, German police raided 36 different homes, all of them occupied by people who stood accused of posting hateful content on social media.

The individuals being raided had mostly been posting right wing extremist content, but allegedly two had been posting left wing content and one had been making threats and prejudiced remarks about the sexual orientation of other individuals. Any more detail than that isn't forthcoming, and you wouldn't expect it to be, but it's fairly easy to fill in the blanks from there.

Laws regarding hate speech on social media differ wildly depending on where you are in the world, but in Germany it can yield a prison sentence of up to five years, if you're found guilty of inciting racial hatred. Even with that in mind though, it's rare that police action, and especially police action this severe, is taken against people who mouth off on social media.

In a sense, this was done to prove that the draft law currently being debated by the German parliament isn't actually necessary. Under that law, platforms would have 24 hours to remove "obviously criminal" material and seven days to decide on anything which doesn't quite reach that margin. Platforms would also be required to provide a fast-acting, easily accessible complaint system. Failure to meet these requirements would result in fines of up to $53 million.

During a hearing on Monday which assessed the draft law, several experts stated that it was unconstitutional, so it may well never be passed. Facebook in particular have acknowledged the fact that they take too long to deal with this kind of thing, but thus far they've only made promises to improve, rather than offering demonstrable results.

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