EU to Facebook and Twitter: Crack Down on Hate Speech, Or Else

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

On Sunday, the European Commission warned Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft that if the companies do not address their hate speech problems, the EU will enact legislation that will force them to do so.

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In May, those five companies voluntarily signed a code of conduct to fight illegal hate speech on their platforms within 24 hours. The EU asked that companies be willing to disable or remove content from their platforms and if necessary, to promote “‘counter-narratives’ to hate speech,” Reuters reported. But on Sunday, the European Commission revealed that the companies were not complying with this code in a satisfactory manner.

“In practice the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours,” a Commission official told Reuters. The Commission’s report found that YouTube responded to reports of harassment the fastest, and unsurprisingly, Twitter found itself in last place.

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“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,” Jourová told the Financial Times on Sunday.

Unlike the United States, freedom of speech is not a fundamental right in Europe, and the EU has hate speech laws that it wants to enforce online. The European Union defined hate speech in this code as “all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

Vĕra Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, told reporters in May that the attacks in Brussels and Paris triggered the creation of the code of conduct. “This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression,” she said. “Where European values and laws are respected.”

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The Commission’s justice ministers will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the report.

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[Reuters]

Eve Peyser was the night editor at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

StoutFiles

They’ll eventually turn into the Gizmodo network, then.

The almost complete lack of trolling here is very nice, but these sites are a bunch of like minded people in a groupthink bubble. Any differentiated opinions have to be presented very carefully, or the consentors are shamed to death by the people here, and/or their posts are removed, and/or they’re shadow banned.

There’s a lot of hate speech here that gets removed because of these strict rules, and that’s great, but there’s hardly any real debates on here that go against the groupthink as well. An example would be “how did trump win, I don’t know any Trump voters”. You think an actual Trump voter would last five minutes here?

I’m all for banning true hate speech, but this site should welcome differentiating opinions, provided people are respectful about it.