The Effect of Hate Speech Regulation on German Twitter

Research Seminars

The paper presented in this seminar analyzes the impact of the Network Enforcement Act, the first regulation which aims at restraining hate speech on large social media in Germany. In a difference indifferences framework, the authors measure the causal effect of the law on the intensity of hateful and attacking language on German Twitter. The results show a significant and robust decrease in hate intensity, which is mainly driven by popular users and users who employed a relatively hateful language prior to the law. Additionally, the monthly volume of potentially unlawful tweets is reduced. However, user engagement with potentially hateful tweets increases as a consequence of the regulation. The results contribute to the ongoing discussion whether legal regulations are needed to combat harmful online content, additionally to platforms’ internal governance mechanisms.