European Commission Demands Social Media Take Down Hate Speech within 24-Hours

/ 4 years ago

Hate Speech

A European Commission report has discovered that only 40% of all notifications of hate speech received action within a 24-hour period and they deem this inadequate, demanding Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to enact faster response times. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft have all agreed and signed a code of conduct six months ago promising to combat online hate speech and the European Commission report is the first official evaluation of how the four companies are handling the situation.

In the report, out of 600 notifications of hate speech in total, 28% led to a removal, 40% of all responses were received within 24 hours and 43% arrived within 48 hours. The report was conducted by twelve independent non-governmental organizations across nine European Union nations within a six-week time frame during October and November 2016. In their findings, Facebook showed the highest amount of illegal hate speech notifications with a total of 270 incidents while Twitter had a total of 163 cases and YouTube with 123. Microsoft, who owns Skype and video game platform Xbox had received no hate speech reports. Most of the reported content was of anti-migrant speech, specifically anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim remarks. The number is oddly low considering anyone who has played an hour of Call of Duty or browsed the YouTube comment section has experienced first hand how toxic it can be, but the commission most likely has a pre-set of hate speech that filters out underage users.

The four companies have also promised to tackle extremist content online on their platforms this week, pledging for the creation of a shared industry database for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos with the goal of quickly identifying and removing the content.

Not all are pleased with the move however, with Joe McNamee, director of European digital rights campaign group EDRi stating in an interview with VICE magazine’s Motherboard that this “means yet another step towards a situation where the internet giants become legislator, judge, jury and executioner regarding our free speech. This needs to be understood in a context where the EU is pushing the online companies into a full private law enforcement regime”. McNamee is referencing the Terrorism Directive passed this week in the European Parliament that proposes internet service blocking.

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