Crackdown on online hate speech: EU pushing for more social media self-regulation
Six European leaders – Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Elzbieta Bienkowska, Vera Jourová, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel – are meeting today (9 January) to discuss progress made in tackling the spread of illegal content online, including terrorist propaganda and xenophobic, racist and hate speech as well as breaches of intellectual property rights.
The leaders commented ahead of their meeting that in recent years, online landscape has significantly increased in the resources such as automated removal but the process must be faster since there are still tens of thousands of pieces of illegal content – “The longer illegal material stays online, the greater its reach, the more it can spread and grow. Building on the current voluntary approach, more efforts and progress have to be made.”
The EU admits that online platforms are an important force behind innovation, growth and digital economy but they also carry a societal responsibility in terms of protecting users and society at large – especially in preventing criminals and terrorists from exploiting their services. In December 2016, Internet companies announced the creation of a shared “Database of Hashes” to be able to better track terrorist content on social media and prevent from its usage elsewhere.
Major social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube are increasingly using automatic tools to remove dangerous content online which was further facilitated by the EU Internet Forum pushed for automatic detection of terrorist propaganda. Facebook was, for example, praised by the EU Commission in mid-2016 for its ability to review most complaints within a 24-hour target timeframe as per the code of conduct that was agreed by the European Commission, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube.
Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova called the results “encouraging” and further pushed for self-regulation and more feedback to the people who report abuses. “This … shows that a self-regulatory approach can work, if all actors do their part. At the same time, companies … need to make further progress to deliver on all the commitments,” Ms. Jourova commented in a statement.