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Online platforms faster at responding to hate speech, says European Commission

Monday, 4 February, 2019 - 18:27

Online portals have become quicker to respond to reports of hate speech, according to a report by the European Commission, released on Monday. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, are now evaluating almost 90 percent of complaints about content posted to their sites in less than a day. 

The same companies removed almost 72 percent of such content after being evaluated.

“Hate speech on the Internet is not only a crime, it also threatens freedom of speech and participation in democratic processes,” said Vera Jurova, European Commissioner for Justice. 

According to Jurova, the figures mean that after two and a half years of regulation in Europe, the right approach to the problem has been found and standardised measures have been developed to counter it.

In their assessments, the European Commission was guided by a code of conduct for countering hate speech on the Internet, which came into force in 2016. During the first year, companies managed to handle only 40 percent of cases in less than a day.

“No one should feel insecure due to threats and illegal content, inciting hatred and remaining on the Web,” said Andrus Ansip, vice-president of the European Commission for the Unified Digital Market. 

In its announcement, the Commission said that the removal of content by social media companies is carried out in compliance with the principle of freedom of speech. However, it was noted that the Internet platforms did not always explain their decisions to users sufficiently clearly. Therefore, the European Commission called on these companies to employ greater transparency when removing content.

The content that drew the most complaints from users contained expressions of xenophobia (17 percent), hatred due to sexual orientation (15.6 percent), hatred towards Muslims (13 percent) and towards Sinti and Roma peoples (12.2 percent). The report was compiled by monitoring social media platforms for a period of six weeks in November-December 2018. During this time, almost 4,400 cases of hate speech online were reported.


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