Social media companies in Germany face fines of up to 50m euros if they fail to remove obviously illegal content in time. From October, Facebook,
YouTube, and other sites with more that two million users in Germany must take down posts containing hate speech or other criminal material within 24 hours. Content that is not obviously unlawful must be assessed within seven days.
Failure to comply will result in a 5m euro penalty, which could rise to 50m euros depending on the severity of the offence.
Facebook responded in a statement:
We believe the best solutions will be found when government, civil society and industry work together and that this law as it stands now will not improve efforts to tackle this important societal problem.
German MPs voted in favour of the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law after months of deliberation, on the last legislative day before the Bundestag's summer break.
Opponents responded the tight time limits are unrealistic, and will lead to accidental censorship as technology companies err on the side of caution and delete ambiguous posts to avoid paying penalties.
The bill has faced criticism from human right's campaigners. Many of the violations covered by the bill are highly dependent on context, context which platforms are in no position to assess, wrote the UN Special Rapporteur to the High Commissioner
for Human Rights, David Kaye. He added that the obligations placed upon private companies to regulate and take down content raises concern with respect to freedom of expression.
The law may still be chllenged in Brussels, where campaigners have claimed it breaches EU laws.