Facebook, Google and Twitter will face new legislation if they don’t do more to police online hate speech, according to the European Commission.
A study commissioned by Věra Jourová, the EU justice commissioner, claimed Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft haven’t done enough to comply with a voluntary code of conduct on hate speech announced earlier this year, according to the Financial Times. EU justice ministers will meet on Thursday to go over the report.
Jourová said the tech companies could be subject to new regulations to curb hate speech if the companies’ own efforts are found lacking.
“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 Times.
Facebook, Google and Twitter agreed back in May to work with European governments to combat terrorist propaganda and hate speech. The companies agreed to review extremist content and educate users about the kind of content not permitted under their rules and community guidelines.
According to the new report, only 40 percent of recorded hate speech incidents were reviewed within 24 hours. After 48 hours, that figure rose to 80 percent, per the Times. YouTube was the quickest to respond to complaints, while Twitter was the slowest. Removal rates were above 50 percent in France and Germany, but only 11 percent in Austria and 4 percent in Italy.
Hate speech has become a major issue in Europe following the attacks in Paris and Brussels, along with the continuing refugee crisis. Facebook and YouTube recently launched systems to block or quickly remove videos from the Islamic State and similar extremist material. The sites use technology developed to identify and remove copyright-protected content, according to Reuters citing sources familiar with the matter.
André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe.
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