The point at which free speech ends and hate speech begins has become a burning issue in an age of social media, where billions of people have access to share synchronous content on global fora. This has raised concerns over an epidemic of hate speech, with privately owned platforms looking to human rights law for inspiration and legitimisation of their own community standards and terms of service, which typically prohibit hate speech, although definitions vary widely. The concerns have also led both the European Union and European democracies to adopt several measures to counter this phenomenon. Examples include the EU’s Code of Conduct on Illegal Hate Speech which requires companies to remove hate speech within 24 hours of them being reported and the 2017 German Enforcement Act which places pressure on social media companies to remove hate speech at risk of 50 million Euro fines.

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