Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Facebook and German Court

I commented recently on how the recently reworded Sedition Act here in Germany has been brought up and intended for use in some unusual cases.  Well....yesterday, Spiegel reported that Facebook is being brought in on criminal charges about xenophobic comments being listed and seen by Germans.

What is being said today is that three Facebook managers will face charges unless the judge in the matter tosses the case out.  The commentary indicates they will be charged with aiding and abetting incitement situations.  The prosecutor involved?  From Hamburg.

Based on several news articles....it appears that the state prosecutor will conduct an investigation because of complaints being made and will probably dismiss the case, but this probably won't occur for at least four to six months....meaning that the Facebook folks will sit there in a hostile and frustrating atmosphere....wondering if they will face some consequences.

The newly defined Sedition Act is a bit different from what you'd expect in most countries.  If you threaten revolution or said threatening comments against the government....that was typically the line crossed where you got into legal trouble.

In this case, the Germans dreamed up a slightly different definition....if you threatened or said extreme comments against any religion, ethnic background, race, or nationality....then you could face German legal consequences.  Oddly, you could slam and say harsh things against the cops for their behavior, and that's legally OK.  Oddly, you could slam the German education system or university professors, and that's OK

What the intellectual crowd of Germany wants is heavily used moderation.....like they use on ARD or ZDF (state-run TV networks) or a number of the news sites around the country.  If you said anything of a nature that might be noted by the moderator of the site.....then your comment gets deleted.  A good example is TheLocal.De which now allows only commentary by readers on sports, diesel episodes with VW, food, and lost ponies.  Virtually all commentary on refugees or Bundestag action on the immigration crisis....is forbidden now within TheLocal.De.

Heavy moderation being the key to stop the current trend?  It's difficult to see how this thought process was carried out and how it might successfully work.

Facebook would require a army of moderators....naturally, all German and all approved by some board or committee from outside of the company.  Naturally, the intellectual crowd wants to pick the moderators and have some overview of what they are doing.

The thing is....once you open this heavy moderation gimmick....where exactly does it end?  If I perceived you were a leftist and talking very negatively about some Christian group in Germany.....could I turn off your commentary or delete your comments as a moderator?  What if I perceived a political activist talking negative about an American or Russian.....could I turn off their commentary or delete their comments as a moderator.  This opens up a can of worms with significant consequences.

I'll add this one cherry upon the cake....as you continue to moderate and try to diminish the voice of some group....it will only infuriate the cause and trigger non-participants (the independents of society) to ask questions.  In some ways, you are simply building a path for a movement to grow and become bigger in scope.

And if Facebook did heavy German moderation?  Well, what keeps a guy from joining Facebook-Croatia or Facebook-Poland?  Social media has no boundary in this modern age of technology.  You can chase these guys all the way to the Isle of Tonga.....but they will still have a voice and a comment in the end.

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