EU threatens Google, Microsoft, Twitter & YouTube with tough new laws to curtail hate speech

EU threatens Google, Microsoft, Twitter & YouTube with tough new laws to curtail hate speech

The European Commission has called on leading US technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Twitter & YouTube to speed-up their efforts to crackdown on hate speech and incitement to violence -under threat of tough new laws to enforce action.

Back in May the firms joined forces to sign-up to a voluntary code of conduct in which they promised to ‘quickly and efficiently’ tackle hate speech but the EC has been singularly unimpressed, demanding actions not words and opening the door to the possibility of imposing new laws to ram home the point.

The code stipulated that tech firms must review the ‘majority’ of instances of reported hate speech within 24 hours of them being brought to their attention – deleting them if it is appropriate to do so.

EU justice minister Vera Jourova told the Financial Times: “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.”

Some IT companies have performed better than others with YouTube quickest to respond to flagged content whilst Twitter lagged someway behind.

According to the Financial Times, of 600 items of flagged hate speech received over the past six months, 316 of were serious enough to warrant a response. In reality however just 163 cases saw flagged content deleted, with a further 153 examples left in-situ as they were deemed not to have breached their community rules.

Takedown rates across the EU vary markedly with 50% of posts identified as racist pulled in Germany and France versus just 11% in Austria and 4% in Italy.

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