An experiment to stop online abuse falls short in Germany

Spike in hate speech ahead of Sunday's election exposes law's weakness in oversight and enforcement

Germany has one of the world's toughest laws against online hate speech. But the influx of hate speech in the run-up to the German election, such as against Dr Laura Dornheim, has exposed some of the weaknesses. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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Scrolling through her social media feed, Dr Laura Dornheim is regularly stopped cold by a new blast of abuse aimed at her, including from people threatening to kill or sexually assault her. One person last year said that he looked forward to meeting her in person so he could punch her teeth out.

Dr Dornheim, a candidate for a Parliament seat in Germany's election on Sunday, is often attacked for her support of abortion rights, gender equality and immigration. She flags some of the posts to Facebook and Twitter, hoping that the platforms will delete the posts or that the perpetrators will be banned. She's usually disappointed.

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