File - In this April 5,. 2017 file photo German Justice Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
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German lawmakers are poised to pass a bill designed to enforce the country's existing limits on free speech – including the long-standing ban on Holocaust denial – in social networks.Right-wing websites and social media users have reacted angrily to the bill, accusing the government of trying to silence dissent.All social media networks with more than 2 million users have to create a channel to process complaints about potentially illegal content.Content illegal in Germany has to be removed within seven days – or 24 hours in clear-cut cases such as Holocaust denial.Companies can delegate the review process to an independent third party overseen by the Justice Ministry – a concession to critics who warned against putting censorship in the hands of private companies.Social networks have to publish a report every six months detailing how many complaints they received and how they dealt with them.Five years ago, Germany became the first country where Twitter tested a feature that blocks individual posts or whole accounts due to potentially illegal content.Free speech groups argue that political debate in Germany will suffer if companies are forced to police every user's comments.
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