The European Union has warned Facebook Inc. (FB), Twitter Inc. (TWTR), Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google (GOOG), and Microsoft Inc. (MSFT) that they could face the prospect of hate speech laws, if they fail to clamp down on such speech on their platforms. The companies, which own or run social media platforms with member numbers that run into millions on the continent, had signed a code of conduct to take down instances of offensive and hate speech within 24 hours back in May. (See also: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft Agree To Report Hate Speech To The EU).
According to a new report that quantifies their efforts, the tech behemoths still have some way to go. The report, which will be discussed by EU ministers this week, stated that the companies reviewed 40 percent of reported cases within the first 24 hours and 80 percent within 48 hours. Germany and France saw the highest rates that were “in excess” of 50 percent while only 4 percent and 11 percent of reported posts were removed in Italy and Austria respectively.
“If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months,” Vera Jourova, EU’s justice commissioner, told FT in an interview. (See also: Facebook May Allow Third-Party Groups To Censor Content In China).
Jourova’s comments echo similar concerns across the pond. Facebook and Google are supposed to have played a major role in electing President-elect Donald Trump by helping spread fake news. Europe’s efforts to stem the flow of hate speech and fake news are the result of online radicalization and an increase in the number of terror attacks in the continent. During their meeting to discuss the report Thursday, European ministers will focus on “terrorist propaganda” and conviction of foreign fighters, according to a Reuters report.