Private moderation of online hate: A panacea or cureless ill?

In May, France passed legislation compelling social media companies to remove ‘manifestly illicit’ hate speech within 24 hours. Companies which do not comply with this requirement would face fines of up to 1.25 million Euros., France’s Constitutional Council ruled that this law limited the freedom of expression in an unnecessary, inappropriate and disproportional manner. This law can be seen as a legislative precedent set by Germany and its 2017 Network Enforcement Act. The result has been increased pressure on private companies to swiftly remove hate speech (even at the cost of freedom of expression). In light of the above, this paper will conduct an analysis of the status of speech online, extrapolating on the horizontalization of responsibility vis-à-vis moderating online hate speech through the structural juxtaposition of private, profit making companies deciphering on issues of freedom of expression through, inter alia (yet increasingly) the use of Artificial Intelligence.