EU To Facebook: Act Fast On Hate Speech, Or We Will Make You Do It

EU To Facebook: Act Fast On Hate Speech, Or We Will Make You Do It
Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

Facebook and Twitter have been used by many for harassment and posting racist comments and hate speech, which has been a nuisance for many users. Now Facebook and Twitter, along with a few other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and YouTube, have received warnings from the European Commission to address their hate speech problems. If they fail to do so, they will be forced to do it.

YouTube the fastest, Twitter the slowest

In May, all five companies voluntarily signed a code of conduct meant to fight illegal hate speech on their platforms within 24 hours. According to Reuters, the EU asked these companies to willingly remove or disable any objectionable content from their platforms. Regulators also asked them to promote “counter-narratives” to hate speech if necessary.

On Sunday, the EC revealed that these companies are not meeting their goal of reviewing reported content within 24 hours. Only 40% of the recorded cases were reviewed in less than 24 hours, while the figure is more than 80% after 48 hours, says Gizmodo. It was found in the commission’s report that YouTube was the fastest to respond to harassment reports, while Twitter took the longest.

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The report also found that the results varied among the 28-country bloc. In Germany and France, the removal rate of racist posts was above 50%, while it was just 11% and 4% in Austria and Italy, respectively.

Facebook must show that a non-legislative approach can work

The findings of the report do suggest that achieving the target is realistic, but the companies will need much stronger efforts to do it. The commission said that to enforce swifter action, it would need to enact laws.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told the Financial Times on Sunday, “If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.”

The EU has hate speech laws that it wants to enforce online. To discuss the matter further, the Commission’s justice ministers will meet in Brussels on Thursday. Also the ministers are expected to ask the companies for more details on clamping down on “terrorist propaganda” and to provide evidence to convict foreign fighters, notes Reuters.

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