Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft back EU hate speech code

Some of the world's biggest online comapnies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube have pledged their support to a new EU code of conduct designed to crack down on posts containing hate speech.

As part of a fresh set of guidelines agreed with the European Commission, the web giants will now aim to tackle threatening or abusive messages posted in Europe within 24 hours of being notified; by removing the content or disabling a user’s profile if necessary.

The code also stipulates that the tech companies must continue in their efforts to tackle hate speech online via “development of internal procedures and staff training.”

The recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris, have prompted European government to push for social networks to combat terrorist propaganda, or profiles dedicated to radicalising young people. Facebook, meanwhile, has been working with the German government to combat content that is racist or xenophobic in light of the ongoing refugee crisis.

Back in February, Twitter released figures claiming it had suspended over 125,000 accounts for containing content threatening or promoting "terrorist" acts.

“Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society,” said Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White.

“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow. However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate. In tandem with actioning hateful conduct that breaches Twitter’s Rules, we also leverage the platform’s incredible capabilities to empower positive voices, to challenge prejudice and to tackle the deeper root causes of intolerance,” she continued.

Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook said the world’s largest social network welcomed the announcement. “We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate. Our teams around the world review these reports around the clock and take swift action,” she asserted.

In the US, firms like Facebook and Google have held meetings with senior White House officials and US intelligence agencies to help form counter-terrorism measures on social media.

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