EU says tech companies show "continued improvement" at removing hate speech

The European Union (EU) has announced that tech companies have gotten better at removing illegal hate speech from the social platforms since joining in with a voluntary Code of Conduct initiated by the EU. On average, 70% of all illegal hate speech notified by NGOs and public bodies was removed - this is up from 28% in 2016, and 59% in May 2017.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market, welcomed the improvements from the participating platforms and companies, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft:

“Today’s results clearly show that online platforms take seriously their commitment to review notifications and remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours. I strongly encourage IT companies to improve transparency and feedback to users, in line with the guidance we published last year. It is also important that safeguards are in place to avoid over-removal and protect fundamental rights such as freedom of speech.”

In the announcement, the Commission stated that Google+ and Instagram will also follow the Code of Conduct going forward. Aside from removing more content, those involved are also responding to notifications within 24 hours more often; 81% of requests are answered in 24 hours up from 51% in the last round of monitoring.

The Commission said that despite the improvements, there were still some extra things the companies could do. Firstly, it said that the companies should provide more feedback to those who reported the content to let them know how it was handled. Secondly, it stated that companies should work with law enforcement to prosecute offenders. It said a “dedicated dialogue” between member state authorities and IT companies is envisaged for Spring 2018.

Going forward, the EU wants to add more companies to the list that abides by the Code of Conduct and continue to monitor them, the Commission will consider additional measures in future if efforts are not pursued or are slow down.

Source: European Commission via BBC News

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