Twitter’s stormy voyage continues, with the microblogging platform potentially facing tens of billions of euros in penalties in Germany for neglecting to remove hate speech posts.
More than 600 cases involving hate speech on Twitter are pending before German courts, according to a report by Techcrunch. This week, Germany announced an investigation into “suspected systemic failings under the country’s hate speech takedowns law,” adding fuel to the fire. According to Techcrunch, the NetzDG law allows for penalties of up to 50 million euros per incident.
The New York Times observed large spikes in hate speech after Musk took control of Twitter at the end of October 2017
Elon Musk informed his employees last week that Twitter, which he purchased for $44 billion last year, is now worth approximately $20 billion. If all 600 cases in Germany are decided against Twitter, the social media behemoth will have to pay a sanction of 30 billion euros, or roughly $33 billion, or 65 percent more than its current market value. This may indicate that Twitter will go insolvent.
Despite the fact that all of this is hypothetical at present, the number and amount of sanctions could easily reach tens of millions of dollars at the very least.
According to a report by Techcrunch, Germany is initially investigating “a smattering of tweets out of hundreds that have been reported and compiled into a database.” Some of the abusive tweets were posted by a user whose account had been suspended prior to Musk’s takeover but has since been reinstated, according to the report.
Techcrunch adds that the German government was prompted to act after a legal challenge successfully established that the messages were unlawful, citing “sufficient indications of failures” in Twitter’s complaint management processes. This could lead to the first NetzDG sanction against a social media company for failing to remove unlawful content.