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Facebook excels as YouTube and Twitter fall short of hate speech removal standards

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook TwitterYouTube and Twitter are failing to meet their hate speech removal targets set out in the European Commission’s Code of Conduct, which they both agreed to last year, while Facebook has impressed the EU with its own adherence to the standards.

Last year, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft signed the Code of Conduct. By doing so, they committed to reviewing the majority of content flagged as illegal hate speech within 24 hours and removing or disabling access to the content.

“Working closely with the private sector and civil society to fight illegal hate speech brings results, and we will redouble our joint efforts,” said Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the digital single market. “We are now working to ensure closer coordination between the different initiatives and forums that we have launched with online platforms. We will also bring more clarity to notice and action procedures to remove illegal content in an efficient way - while preserving freedom of speech, which is essential.”

Overall, the companies have all showed signs of improvement with them responding to, on average, 59 per cent of notifications concerning illegal hate speech by removing the content – compared to 28 per cent six months ago. Furthermore, the amount of notifications reviewed within 24 hours has increased from 40 per cent to 51 per cent over the same six-month period.

Despite these overall improving figures, Facebook is the only company that reaches the targets set out by the Commission, assessing 57.9 per cent of reports in a 24-hour period. Meanwhile, YouTube lags behind on 42.6 per cent and Twitter 39 per cent.

The European Commission has still praised the progress of the companies, as a whole, for their work to clear the internet of illegal hate speech – stating that they have become better at tending to reports from regular users in the same way as those coming from organisations, while also training staff and increasing cooperation with civil society.

“The results of our second evaluation of the Code of Conduct are encouraging,” said V?ra Jourová, EU Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. “The companies are now removing twice as many cases of illegal hate speech and at a faster rate when compared to six months ago.

“This is an important step in the right direction and shows that a self-regulatory approach can work, if all actors do their part. At the same time, companies carry a great responsibility and need to make further progress to deliver on all the commitments. For me, it is also important that the IT companies provide better feedback to those who notified cases of illegal hate speech content.”