After being handed down multiple ultimatums by the European Union (EU), American tech giants — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft have started cracking down on the propagation of hate speech and abuse on their platforms more aggressively. The EU, in an official press statement, has praised Facebook for immediately ramping up its efforts to become compliant with voluntary guidelines it had agreed to adopt about a year ago.
In the report, the European Commission has made significant progress in reviewing content and removing hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported by members of the community. The platforms have shown 2x progress in handling such complaints and this is significant progress in the direction towards the code of conduct they’ve signed up for in May 2016.
Speaking about this positive change, Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said:
The results of our second evaluation of the Code of Conduct are encouraging. The companies are now removing twice as many cases of illegal hate speech and at a faster rate when compared to six months ago. This is an important step in the right direction and shows that a self-regulatory approach can work if all actors do their part.
At the same time, companies carry a great responsibility and need to make further progress to deliver on all the commitments. For me, it is also important that the IT companies provide better feedback to those who notified cases of illegal hate speech content.
Now, the EU’s regulatory body is considering the introduction of legislation which would require social networks to take immediate action against hate speech or terrorist propaganda. It is a part of their efforts to make the online space completely safe for everyone to access. But, some analysts have agrued that the EC could be infringing on the free speech rights of an individual online. It is also instructing these tech giants to take down videos that contain violence, abuse or other nasty content.
As for the latest code of conduct evaluation, the European Commission’s analysis found that 59 percent of the reported hate speech content is being removed from the respective platforms on time. This is almost double the their level of response, about 28 percent, that was recorded six months earlier. It also discovered that the number of notifications reviewed within 24 hours has also improved from 40 to 51 percent. But, as we can all see, there’s still some scope for improvement and the EC wants the technology behemoths to improve on the same.
As compared with the situation six months ago the IT companies have become better at treating notifications coming from citizens in the same way as those coming from organizations which use trusted reporters channels. Still, some differences persist and the overall removal rates remain lower when a notification originates from the public.