Germany has begun enforcing a new law that mandates that social media firms must swiftly remove hate speech, hoax stories and illegal content from their platforms or face a fine.
Social media firms with at least 2 million users will have 24 hours to remove material that has been flagged to them and could see fines up to 50 million euros if they don’t.
The law, known as NetzDG in Germany, was created to target large sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to the BBC, but will also affect platforms like Reddit, Tumblr and potentially others.
NetzDG had been announced previously to give companies time to prepare before it went into effect in 2018. The law was proposed after several notable instances in which hoax stories and racist material were spread across social media platforms.
The Germany’s Ministry of Justice will make forms available on its website that citizens can use to file complaints of social media sites violating NetzDG.
In addition to a 24-hour removal, the law prompts major firms to create structures to ensure that violating content is quickly removed after being reported.
In certain “complex cases” firms will be given up to a week to remove content, instead of just one day.
The law follows the trend of social media companies losing some favor with governments across the globe.
In the U.S., United Kingdom and elsewhere, politicians have called for greater scrutiny of technology firms, though to varying degrees. German’s NetzDG law is the most extreme example of this to come to fruition so far.