Tech Companies Policing the Web Will Do More Harm Than Good

The influence and proliferation of extremist content, hate speech, and state-sponsored propaganda on the internet has risen around the globe, as demonstrated by Russia’s involvement in the US election and the rise of ISIS recruitment online. As a result, the pressure that governments, media, and civil society are placing on technology companies to take meaningful action to stem the flow of this content is at an all-time high.

A recent law passed in Germany will require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove illegal, racist, or slanderous content within 24 hours after it's flagged by a user, or face fines as large as $57 million. Although this legislation was passed overseas, its effects will be felt stateside, as the sites that will bear the brunt of the law are American. Furthermore, while similar legislation in the US is unlikely due to the country's strong First Amendment culture, a recent Canadian court ruling ordered content that violated Canadian law should be deleted globally rather than just for Canadian users, opening the door to extraterritorial regulation that could affect American consumers.

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