The US tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter, will get new laws to deal with hate speech. These new rules will force them to tackle hate speech if they don’t do it on their own. It is a warning from European Commission. This year, in May 2016, the four US firms formatted a “Code of Conduct” in alliance with the Commission. The Commission is European Union’s executive arm. And the aim of this agreement was to deal with hate speech on their platforms. It involved a series of commitments. It includes a pledge to review the majority of notifications. And this review is on the suspected illegal hate speech.
What are the actions to deal with hate speech?
Removal of comments or any illegal hate speech in 24 hours. If necessary, they will disable the complete content from reaching people. Another promise is to provide regular training to the staff to tackle hate speech. The Commission and US Tech giants agreed to this pact in May 2016. In six months, there is no remarkable improvement and the Commission is not happy. According to the EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourovora, she set a report. Reports say, the progress of dealing with removal of offending material is “too slow.”
The commission is not happy
An official of the Commission said, “In practice, the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours. After 48 hours, the figure is over 80 per cent. It shows that the target can realistically be achieved, but this will need much stronger efforts by the IT companies.”
And this is what made the Commission to introduce new laws. The Commission said that it will introduce a new law to make the organizations work faster. As said by Jourovora, “If Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince the ministers and me that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.” And this is confirmed by a spokesperson for the commission in an Email to CNBC. The complete report of Jourovora is not released yet. Different technology firms will take part in the discussion.
What do Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google have to say?
When we contacted Facebook and Microsoft, they did not comment on this issue. And Twitter and Google is yet to make any official statements on this. After the “code of conduct” was signed six months ago, tech firms got notifications. And to be precise, they got more than 600 warnings to deal with hate speech. But those notifications did not offer a proper result. Of the 600 notifications, they flagged 316, and it needs a response from firms. 163 of them ended up in content removal. And they didn’t remove 153 notifications because the companies concluded it was not a breach of legislation. And according to their country rules, this was not illegal. So, as we can see, only 163 or 28% notifications ended up in content removal.
There is also a difference in removal rates for different countries. They removed 50% of the content from Germany. But Italy got only 4% removal of content. After activation of this new Law, we have to wait and watch what changes it brings to the table.