Friday, September 11, 2015

Germany and the Hint of Moderation

Generally, everything in today's social media world of Germany.....is moderated.

If you make comments on a state-run TV site under a story....it has to be reviewed and moderated....meaning they might allow it to be previewed, or simply deleted.  Moderation prevents people from making insults or serious jabs at individuals or government decisions.

Oddly, a couple of weeks ago, the German jumped up and wanted social networks to force everyone to use their real name.

This past week.....if you follow comments by the Chancellor (Merkel).....she actually said that people using their real name.....could fall under sedition action (serious legal trouble) if they used their real name....noting that not only does the state have to react.....but so does the company or media device.

Naturally, she was pointing fingers at Facebook.  But then she commented that Facebook does have a code of conduct (few people ever grasp that when they sign up).  Then she noted....there was no lack of control or enforcement.  In otherwords.....moderation....controlling verbal comments.

Back in August, the Justice Minister sent a letter to the Facebook/Europe Public Policy Director (Richard Allen).  It should be noted....Facebook keeps their team in Ireland.  The Facebook folks said that they were interested in meeting up with the Justice Minister and have a discussion.

Full-time moderators coming up on Facebook?  I kinda doubt it.

If you look over at the "Local".....a German information/news site in English.....they run full-time moderators now.  In a number of stories, which have a refugee or immigrant angle.....they've cut off commentary entirely.  In fact, the only stories that the Local generally allows full commentary without any moderation....oddly....are sports stories.

Why the need for moderation?  There is some belief by German intellectuals and news groups that if you moderate and control commentary by the public.....then there's less aggravated feelings and more acceptance of the message.  In simple terms....you put out a message....you allow only certain reactions or comments about your message.....then people think that it's generally accepted.   In the former Communist world....the better method was simply to limit news to a few bits and pieces....with almost no message, and you end up with no aggravated feelings.

Where this all goes?  It's difficult to predict how this moderation gimmick will play out in the long-run.  I'm guessing someone will eventually challenge someone in court, and we will go through a two-year cycle of German judges reviewing moderation and trying to find legal standing for or against it.   They might actually hand it back to the Bundestag to pass a law affecting future limits on moderation or allowing full moderation with no limits.

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