Irish Examiner View: Let’s be sensible about hateful content online

THE French parliament has adopted a law that requires online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove reported "hateful content" within 24 hours.
Irish Examiner View: Let’s be sensible about hateful content online

THE French parliament has adopted a law that requires online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove reported "hateful content" within 24 hours. Failure to do so will generate large fines.

The law, which is similar to one adopted in Germany in 2017, is designed to halt the spread of online hate speech. France and Germany found that their existing laws against hate speech generated few prosecutions.

The same goes for our 1989 Prohibition on Incitement To Hatred Act which is why the Irish government has been engaging with human rights groups on what form any prohibition of hate speech should take.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) argues that criminalising it should only be done in the cases such as incitement to genocide, propaganda for war, or clear incitement to violence. That is a sensible and measured approach. Making those platforms police all forms of offensive content could have a chilling effect on free speech.

It would also mean devolving censorship to the tech giants and allowing them to decide what is and is not illegal content.

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