The European Union has called on social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google to step up their activism against hate speech by removing at least 50 percent of the flagged speech that they are notified of.
According to findings over a seven week period from 34 nongovernmental organizations in 24 of the 28 countries in the European Union, both Facebook and Google have complied with the request. The study shows 59 percent of the posts that were flagged for hate speech were removed by tech companies and of those removed, about 50 percent were taken down in 24 hours.
Twitter is a notable social media platform that has yet to comply to the quota that the European Union has requested. The company has removed a significantly larger portion of flagged hate speech this year than they had the year prior, moving from 19 percent to almost 40 percent. The pressure is now focused in on Twitter to clean up their company as it has become an outlet for many people to spread hateful messages and propaganda over the internet. In response to increasing the number of flagged posts removed from the site, Twitter has made an easier reporting procedure to allow individuals to flag hate speech. Google and Facebook have also made it easier for individuals to flag hate speech as well.
Vera Jourova, the European commissioner of justice, is happy with the progress being made. “We embarked in this process together, determined to bring about real changes for people who suffer from hatred and violence online. The code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online has delivered significant progress,” Jourova said in a statement this week.
The European Union’s requests have been met with backlash from freedom of speech campaigners who believe that people attain the right to say what they want online, even if it is hateful. In light of the recent terrorist attack in Manchester, England, the push on social media companies to increase the number of posts they take down has heightened. Theresa May, England’s prime minister, called on the companies to “strengthen their monitoring of extremist speech online.” In Germany, lawmakers and planning to create a law that will fine tech companies up to $50 million if they do not act quickly in taking down hate speech that has been flagged.
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