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Facebook & Google pass Europe hate speech test, Twitter fails

I will try harder in class

New findings from the European Commission concluded online giants are starting to remove hate speech from their platforms in a more timely manner.

Last year, Facebook, Twitter and Google all signed up to a voluntary code of conduct by which they committed to actioning complaints about hate speech on their platforms within 24 hours. This could be removing or disabling the content, or perhaps better cooperation with civil society organizations and authorities.

Through the last 12 months, success has been a bit of a mixed bag according to the New York Times. The finding were based on roughly 2500 potential instances of hate speech recorded by 34 nongovernmental organizations in 24 of the European Union’s 28 member states. Facebook and Google (through the YouTube brand) met the standards of the overseer, removing at least 50% of the notified pieces of content, however Twitter only managed 40%.

While Twitter will be receiving a bit of a wrist slap, the consequences of the failure could be a lot more damning for the segment on the whole.

“In May last year, I agreed with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft on a Code of conduct to counter illegal hate speech online,” said Jourová in March.

“These IT companies committed to review and assess most of the notifications of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours. A lack of progress may challenge the effectiveness of self-regulation in this area and may increase the pressure to legislate.”

Whether Jourová believes the latest findings are suitable for the segment to remain self-regulating remains to be seen, but it appears we are seeing a recurrence of a tale we all know too well. Twitter is the naughty kid, sat at the back of the room, bringing down the class average once again.

What the research does suggest is that these players only listen intently when you threaten to hit them where it hurts; in their wallets. Germany has set underway plans to cast out heavy fines should social media platforms not be compliant to its demands over hate speech, which does appear to have made an impact. Facebook has been hiring extra content reviewers to assess the content, perhaps as a result of the threat of a fine.

Germany is a powerful voice in the European Union. Should such an initiative prove to be successful, it would be a fair bet that a number of other nations would follow suit. It could have been an expensive lesson to learn.

Perhaps another lesson which can be taken from the report is that despite complaints about the challenges of moderating hate speech, the social media giants can do it if they really want to. Maybe they just don’t because it’s too expensive.

  • TV Connect MENA


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