Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft have agreed to work with European officials to crack down on hateful speech published on their respective platforms. Each company has agreed to review potentially problematic posts and remove offending content within 24 hours.
“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said in a joint statement from the European Commission and the participating companies. “Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred.”
The new partnership comes after Facebook, Twitter, and Google agreed to erase hate speech from their platforms within 24 hours in Germany, an attempt to address racism following the refugee crisis. That agreement, which Reuters reported last year, also made it easier for individual users to report hateful speech.
Under the new code of conduct, technology companies will have clear rules in place for reviewing content that may be deemed malicious or hateful. The document also says the companies should be responsible for educating their users on the types of content that are disallowed.
Tech companies assure that the recently announced code of conduct won’t interfere with freedom of speech. “We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” Karen White, Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, said in the statement. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”
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