Germany’s justice minister has proposed fines of up to €50m for social networking sites that fail to swiftly remove illegal content, such as hate speech or defamatory "fake news".
Heiko Maas said sites should also nominate a person responsible for handling complaints, who could face fines of up to five million euro (£4.3 million) personally if the company fails to abide by mandatory standards.
Mr Maas said the proposals will become part of a bill that will be put to parliament.
He said measures to combat hate speech, which can include so-called fake news, will ultimately have to be taken at the European level to be effective.
Mr Maas said research shows that Twitter deletes just 1% of illegal content flagged by users, while Facebook deletes 39%.