Business Technology

Sunday 4 December 2016

Facebook and Twitter promise to crack down on internet hate speech

James Titcomb

Published 01/06/2016 | 07:47

The Three Giants of Social Media - Facebook, Twitter and Google
The Three Giants of Social Media - Facebook, Twitter and Google

Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft have promised a crackdown on hate speech, signing up to new EU rules that require them to delete the majority of offending comments within 24 hours.

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The four internet giants have agreed a code of conduct with the European Commission that binds them to removing the majority of reported illegal hate speech within 24 hours.

Online companies have been under pressure to do more to deal with abusive speech amid the refugee crisis and fears that social media is being used as a recruiting ground for terrorists.

The likes of Facebook and Twitter have vowed to protect free speech online, despite pledging to crack down on abuse. On Tuesday, the companies announced a set of standards for dealing with hate speech, including:

  • A promise to review the majority of reports of illegal hate speech and remove the offending content within 24 hours
  • Making users aware about what is banned by each company
  • Training staff to let them better spot and respond to online hate speech.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” said Vĕra Jourová, the EU Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality

“Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred. 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.”

The companies have signed up to the agreements, despite claiming they already have strong and effective anti-hate speech policies.

Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook said: “There’s no place for hate speech on Facebook. 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.” 

Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, said: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society.”

Last week, a group of MPs launched an effort to "reclaim the internet" from sexist and abusive online trolls. Jess Phillips, who helped launch the campaign, said she had received more than 600 rape threats in one night afterwards.

Telegraph.co.uk

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