Germany Struggles to Cease On-line Abuse Forward of Election

“We have no tolerance for hate speech and support the goals of the NetzDG,” said a statement by Facebook.

Twitter, which received around 833,000 complaints and removed around 81,000 posts over the same period, said the majority of those posts did not meet the definition of illegal speech but still violated the company’s terms of service.

“Threats, abusive content and harassment all have the potential to silence individuals,” said a statement from Twitter. “However, regulations and laws like this have the potential to curb free expression by encouraging regimes around the world to legislate to suppress dissent and legitimate expression.”

YouTube, which received around 312,000 complaints and removed around 48,000 pieces of content in the first six months of the year, declined to comment on anything other than stating that it was compliant with the law.

According to researchers from Reset and HateAid, organizations tracking hate speech online and pushing for stricter laws, the amount of hate speech has increased during election season.

The groups checked nearly a million comments on far-right and conspiratorial groups in about 75,000 Facebook posts in June and found that about 5 percent were “highly toxic” or violated online hate speech law. Some of the worst materials, including messages with Nazi symbolism, had been online for more than a year, the groups found. Of 100 posts that the groups reported to Facebook, around half were removed within a few days, while the others stayed online.

The elections also saw a wave of misinformation, including false claims of electoral fraud.

Annalena Baerbock, the 40-year-old leader of the Greens and the only woman among the top candidates for the successor to Ms. Merkel, is exaggeratedly abused by insults and misinformation campaigns compared to her male rivals from other parties, including sexist ones, according to the researchers.

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