Germany Raids Homes of 36 Accused of 'Hateful' Social Media Posts

“The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action.”

Amid a flurry of jihadist attacks in London, Manchester, Brussels, Paris, and elsewhere in Europe, Germany is getting tough -- on social media haters.

The New York Times reports that the German police on Tuesday raided the homes of 36 people accused of "hateful postings" on social media, including threats, coercion and incitement to racism.

Most of the raids were in response to -- predictably -- "right-wing incitement," according to the Federal Criminal Police Office. Police officers conducted home searches and interrogations for only two people accused of posts of left-wing extremist content. One person was accused of "making threats or harassment based on someone’s sexual orientation."

No jihadists were apprehended as a result of the coordinated operations, but social media users will think twice now about posting "hate." Good work, Germany.

“The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action,” said Holger Münch, president of the Federal Criminal Police Office. “Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet.”

Translation: our free society must not express forbidden opinions.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas is pushing a new law that would fine Facebook, Twitter and other outlets up to $53 million for failing to remove hate speech and other forms of illegal content. Experts have denounced the measure as unconstitutional.

Under German law, social media users are already subject to punishment for posting illegal material, including a prison sentence of up to five years for inciting racial hatred, according to the NYT.

Bernd Holznagel, a professor at the University of Münster and one of the aforementioned experts, said, “Our constitutional court will not allow such a statute. The statute sets up incentives to take out content if there is any doubt, so there is an incentive to erase speech, and that cannot be upheld.

“The second point is the other side of the coin, because if there is just an incentive to remove, what about the rights of the speaker who posts the content?” he added.

Issues