Google and Facebook face fines in Germany, Airbnb wins lawsuit: International round-up

Plus marijuana ads pop up after it is made legal in California, and an Australian ad watchdog rules that Santa can be used to sell guns.

Germany enforces law encouraging digital giants to tackle hate speech

Germany is set to start enforcing a law that demands social media sites move quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material.

Sites that do not remove “obviously illegal” posts could face fines of up to 50m (£44.3m). The law gives the networks 24-hours to act after they have been told about the material.

Social networks and media sites with more than two million members will fall under the law’s provisions. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are undoubtedly the law’s main focus but it is also likely to be applied to Reddit, Tumblr and Russian social network VK. Other sites such as Vimeo and Flickr could also be caught up in the regulation.

The new law was passed at the end of June 2017 and came into force in early October. The social networks were given until the end of last year to prepare themselves for its arrival.

READ MORE: Germany starts enforcing hate speech law

Airbnb defeats lawsuit brought by major US landlord

Airbnb can breathe a sigh of relief. It has just defeated a lawsuit from major American landlord Apartment Investment & Management Co (AIMCO), which accused the peer-to-peer home rental service of helping tenants break their lease agreements by using its service.

The judge ruled that Airbnb was protected by the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet services against liability for the content posted by their users. Simply put: It’s the tenants that are responsible for the rule-breaking listings, not Airbnb for hosting them.

AIMCO sued Airbnb in 2017 after some of its tenants in upmarket LA apartments complained about Airbnb tourists making noise, damaging property and putting residents at risk. It hoped to bar the company from listing any of its properties.

Airbnb already has terms of service that requires rental hosts to obey lease agreements and local laws, but that clearly hasn’t stopped some customers.

READ MORE: Judge sides with Airbnb in lawsuit from US apartment landlord

Santa can be used to sell guns, Australian ad watchdog rules

Ever had Santa encourage you to buy a gun? It could happen in Australia. The country’s advertising watchdog has cleared Gun World of breaking any of its rules in a billboard ad promoting the gift of a gun.

The ad, headlined ‘Santa knows what you really want for Christmas’, drew complaints for being “highly offensive”. Others said the ad draws parallels between Christmas and guns, which is inappropriate for an audience of children.

But the Ad Standards Board disagreed. It believes Christmas is a theme for the whole community – not just children – making it a celebration not primarily dedicated to children.

Dismissing the complaints, the Board said the ad is legally allowed and is targeting adults therefore does not break any community codes.

READ MORE: It’s okay to use Santa to promote guns, rules ad watchdog

Ad campaigns launch after marijuana is made legal in California

The first day of 2018 marked the start of recreational marijuana sales in California. And alongside the change in law, advertising has started sprouting up.

MedMen, the largest retailer of legal marijuana in Southern California, has seemingly launched the largest-ever outdoor cannabis display.

The ‘Faces’ campaign aims to show the breadth of “modern” cannabis customers by including people that might be your friends, neighbours and even your granny.

Simple taglines printed across the photos include, “Heal. It’s legal,” and “Relax. It’s legal.”

“This isn’t about stoner culture,” said B.J. Carretta, MedMen’s CMO. “We want everyone to see that there are plenty of uses for cannabis and CBD, and that it’s super relatable no matter who you are or where you come from.”

California voters passed a law allowing the legal sale of cannabis for recreational purposes in August last year, and according to the Green Market Report sales revenue is expected to top $15bn in 2018.

Marketing Week recently spoke to a one US marketer about the unique challenges of building a weed brand.

READ MORE: Recreational marijuana use is now legal in California. Here come the ads

Alibaba is beating Google in mobile across Asia

When it comes to stealing mobile users in Asia, Google better watch its back. The Alibaba-owned UC browser is currently winning the war for mobile users in India and Indonesia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world, with more than 1 billion users. Globally, Chrome has a roughly 55% market share to Safari’s approximately 15%, as the second largest browser. The UC browser has just under 9% of the global market and is third after Safari. Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer follow in that order.

The UC Browser is reportedly preferred by many in developing markets because it takes up less space, is faster and works more smoothly on lower-end smartphones with unstable connections. The browser launched in 2004 and operates as a content portal as well.

READ MORE: Alibaba’s UC browser beating Google Chrome in Indian mobile market

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