The European Commission this week has called on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other major technology companies to get more aggressive when dealing with online hate speech or else face new legislation that will force them to do so.
A study has revealed that Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft have all failed to comply with a voluntary code of conduct announced on hate speech earlier in the year.
The code of conduct was announced in May and the tech companies mentioned above all agreed to respond to “the majority” of hate speech complaints within 24 hours.
According to the study, only 40% of incidents are getting reviewed inside of that 24 hour timeframe. After 48 hours the figure rises to 80% and the conclusion is that tech companies are simply not making a big enough effort.
YouTube is the fastest to respond to complaints while Twitter is the slowest. The EU is now starting to put pressure on companies to act faster and deal with hate speech quickly.
German justice minister Heiko Maas has recently said that Facebook should be treated as a media company which would make it liable for any hate speech published to the platform.
The EU could look at bringing in legislation that will force companies to comply. The current agreement in place since May is one which companies have voluntarily signed up for and does not force them to comply. It was brought in following concerns that the refugee crisis and terrorism would trigger a wave of illegal hate speech online.
Vera Jourova, the EU Justice Commissioner who requested the study has said that companies will have to “act quickly” to stop the EU from introducing legislation that will mandate action on hate speech.
She told The Financial Times:
“If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.”
Social media companies are being urged all over the world to take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to online hate speech and the spread of viral news stories and information. Recently Facebook has come under intense fire for the publication and promotion of fake news.
It is possible that the EU may look to take matters into their own hands if the companies are unable to sort it out themselves.