IN most democracies free speech is not an unfettered right but subject to laws and regulations.
If any newspaper, magazine or broadcaster publishes hateful content they are, quite rightly, in peril of being prosecuted.
Because of that and because of a longstanding culture of striving for fairness and accuracy, they make every effort to ensure this doesn’t happen. This involves hiring specialists whose job it is to ensure that all content, from whatever source, is legal and legitimate.
Social media services, on the other hand, appear to operate as if such laws should not apply to them, arguing that they are merely the conduits of content and, therefore, have no responsibility for it.
That may be about the change as Germany is looking at new laws to force social media platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google to take a more active role in policing illegal hate speech on their sites.
It is time democracies legislated to make dominant social media owners recognise their responsibilities as publishers.
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