Google's YouTube, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter vow to counter online hate speech, pledging to abide by European regulations.
The European Commission (EC) requires such companies to review hateful speech posted online within 24 hours of receiving a notification and, if necessary, remove the content.
This is part of a new "code of conduct" that aims to combat hate speech, as well as terrorist propaganda, distributed online across the European Union (EU). At the same time, the EU regulations also require technology companies to discover and promote any "independent counter-narratives" trying to combat hate speech and online terrorist propaganda, as it would further help the cause.
Together, the IT companies, the EC and the EU Member States are fighting for a safer online environment, aiming to make sure that online platforms no longer offer venues where hate speech goes viral.
EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourová, points out that the terror attacks that occurred recently made it clear that urgent measures are necessary to handle illegal hate speech promoted online. Social media has often served as a means for terrorist groups to spread hatred and draw more followers to their cause, and countering such threats is paramount.
The commissioner further applauds the commitment technology companies have made as part of this new code of conduct for cleaner online platforms.
Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pledged to assume more responsibility in fighting illegal content on their platforms. The companies promised not to hinder the flow of information across their platforms while cracking down on hate speech.
Karen White, Twitter's head of public policy for Europe, explains that there is a clear distinction between hateful conduct and freedom of expression. The former will not be tolerated, while the latter will not be hindered.
"In tandem with actioning hateful conduct that breaches Twitter's Rules, we also leverage the platform's incredible capabilities to empower positive voices, to challenge prejudice and to tackle the deeper root causes of intolerance," says White.
Lie Junius, Google's head of public policy and government relations, also says that the company has always prohibited any illegal hate speech on its platforms, and will continue to do so.
Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, echoes the others' statements, welcoming the new collaborative effort and encouraging Facebook users to report any questionable content that might violate the social network's standards.