Citing an “urgent need” the European Union has called on tech companies to review (and then suppress) hate speech and Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter all announced that they would take steps to stem online hate speech in Europe.
Terrorist propaganda and hate speech
The aforementioned tech giants all announced today that they would begin reviewing “the majority”” of hate speech reported to them within 24 hours of receiving notification of its existence as well as removing it if deemed appropriate or necessary. The European commission outlined and announced the new legislation today as well as the support of the four companies outlined above. The commission took these steps in what it feels was a necessary rise in speech that both promotes terrorism and speech that rails at terrorist organizations but ultimately attacks whole groups like “Arabs” and “Muslims” with, of course, and unfortunately the use of colorful adjectives.
Now the big four, along with others, have agreed to promote “independent counter-narratives” as well as simply removing the content.
Brussels and Paris attacks prompted the action
The terror attacks in Paris as well as another in Brussels has prompted the reaction by the commission. While I understand the root of some of the hate I simply can’t get behind the branding of entire groups based on the actions of a few and the condemnation of refugees as a whole. Not all Syrians are Muslims and if you look at pictures of Syria following a long running civil war, would you stay there or would you take you and your family elsewhere seeking a better life? Hope you’re reading Mr. Trump.
“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” V?ra Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality, said in a statement today that announced the new regulations and cooperation. “Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and to spread violence and hatred.”
The announcement marks the first true attempt by Europe to present a unified front against hate speech across all countries in the European Union.
“In short, the ‘code of conduct’ downgrades the law to a second-class status, behind the ‘leading role’ of private companies that are being asked to arbitrarily implement their terms of service,” read a joint statement by European Digital Rights (EDRi) and Access Now following the commission’s announcement. “This process, established outside an accountable democratic framework, exploits unclear liability rules for companies. It also creates serious risks for freedom of expression as legal but controversial content may well be deleted as a result of this voluntary and unaccountable take down mechanism.”
While the tech companies all came out with statements in support of their actions, it’s clear that Facebook and the others are not tremendous fans of anything that it’s customers can say is a denial of the right to free expression.
“We’re committed to giving people access to information through our services, but we have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms,” Lie Junius, Google’s head of public policy and government relations, said today when asked for comment. “We have efficient systems to review valid notifications in less than 24 hours and to remove illegal content. We are pleased to work with the Commission to develop co- and self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online