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Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube Take Hard Line on Hate Speech in EU

A handful of American tech companies have signed on to battle hate speech in Europe.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are supporting a new code of conduct drafted by the European Union to help curb the spread of online abuse via social media. As such, the companies have agreed to remove hate speech from their platforms with 24 hours of being notified of its existence.

The companies, which signed the EU’s new code of conduct, will be responsible for developing internal procedures and training staff to ensure all valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech are dealt with in less than 24 hours.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred,” EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vĕra Jourová said in a press release.

“This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the Internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected. I welcome the commitment of worldwide IT companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.”

As part of the agreement, the four IT companies will also forge stronger partnerships with civil society organizations, who in turn, will help flag content that advocates for violence and hateful behaviors.

The companies are also required to raise awareness with their users about the types of content that is prohibited and provide information on the procedures for submitting complaints about hate speech.

Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert is urging all Facebook users to report inappropriate content.

“As we make clear in our Community Standards, there’s no place for hate speech on Facebook,” Bickert said. “We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate. Our teams around the world review these reports around the clock and take swift action.”

Microsoft vice-president EU government affairs John Frank expressed similar sentiments.

“We value civility and free expression, and so our terms of use prohibit advocating violence and hate speech on Microsoft-hosted consumer services,” Frank said. “We recently announced additional steps to specifically prohibit the posting of terrorist content. We will continue to offer our users a way to notify us when they think that our policy is being breached. Joining the Code of Conduct reconfirms our commitment to this important issue.”

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Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.


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