“Giant fines for creators and distributors of online firestorms on Facebook and other social media platforms could become an important tool for strengthening democracy. Instead, the technology giants have become the largest global distributors of cyberbullying and hate speech.
Our democracy depends on people not being pressured into silence. Through false news and hate speech, we have seen how covert actors manipulate elections and influence society. Also in Norway. It is important to ensure greater transparency and greater openness, and get more people to dare and participate in the public debate – even when opinions are controversial.
Facebook is Norway’s largest social media platform and a website where online content is regularly published. Many have experienced that hate speech is not removed by Facebook even if the hate rhetoric is reported to the technology giant. In Germany, Facebook and other platform owners risk fines of up to NOK 500 million (60M USD) if they do not remove hate speech within 24 hours. A model with giant fines for platform owners is a solution that should also be considered in Norway. Money is a language the global technology giants understand.
Social media can be a blessing or a curse for free speech. I’m worried that the latter is about to happen. The global platform owners are in danger of breaking down both individuals and the public discourse through the distribution of incitement, harassment and false news. The giants will probably continue to do this as long as it is profitable and helps to secure their business model.
This must change, because it must not be the hatred, the algorithms and the money that govern democracy.”
– Steinar J. Olsen, CEO and owner of Stormberg sportswear, also member of the Freedom of Expression Commission