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Social media giants taking more action against hate speech

Social media giants taking more action against hate speech

The EU Code of Conduct initiative to counter hate speech is showing results.

Signing up to the code is another outward indication that the firms are taking online hate speech seriously - businesses are falling over themselves to be seen to be doing something, pushed on by the near-constant threat of extra legislation.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter vowed today to ramp up their fight against illegal online hate speech after the Commission published a third evaluation of its voluntary code of conduct dealing with the issue.

According to the European Commission's latest review of the big four internet firms' action against illegal content online, the removal rate is, on average, 70 per cent of content reported.

Of the hate speech flagged to the companies, nearly half of it was found on Facebook, the figures show, while 24 per cent was on YouTube and 26 per cent on Twitter.

"I strongly encourage IT companies to improve transparency and feedback to users, in line with the guidance we published a year ago".

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft have been members since May 2016; it now also covers Instagram, and Google+ has joined today.

More news: Kerala: ABVP activist hacked to death in Kannur district

Facebook, which received the most notifications overall removed 79.8 per cent of the content in question, while YouTube and Twitter removed 75 per cent and 45.7 per cent respectively.

While the main commitments have been fulfilled, there is still some room for improvement in some areas. This compares to just 28 per cent in the first monitoring round conducted two years ago and 59 per cent in a second review carried out last May.

One in five of the cases reported to participating tech firms were also flagged by NGOs to prosecutors or law enforcement - a figure that has more than doubled since the last monitoring report.

Vĕra Jourová, European Union commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said: "The internet must be a safe place, free from illegal hate speech, free from xenophobic and racist content".

Although the Commission argues that the code is simply to encourage firms to take quick action against content that is already illegal, the increased pressure on firms to act fast has led to concerns about censorship.

"This shows that where there is a strong collaboration between technology companies, civil society and policymakers, we can get results and, at the same time, preserve freedom of speech".


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