Social media accelerates hate speech removal as EU threatens crackdown

  • 20/01/2018
An Illustration of Facebook logo, on May 9, 2016. Facebook won a court case in China against Zhongshan Pearl River Drink Factory for using the name face book. The result of the case is said to show that China is easing its attitude towards the social network which is officially banned in the country. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have accelerated removals of online hate speech in the face of a potential European Union crackdown.

The EU has gone as far as to threaten social media companies with new legislation unless they increase efforts to fight the proliferation of extremist content and hate speech on their platforms.

Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube signed a code of conduct with the EU in May 2016 to review most complaints within a 24-hour timeframe.

Instagram and Google+ will also sign up to the code, the European Commission said.

New figures show social media companies now review more than two-thirds of complaints within 24 hours, compared to May 2017, where only half of complaints were reviewed within the same time period.

According to Facebook, it considers hate speech "content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease.

"We do, however, allow clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack."

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has said that she does not want to see a 100 percent removal rate because that could impinge on free speech.


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