These days, it’s harder than ever to go about your business online without being controversial, and while sometimes it’s simply a disagreement with someone of a different opinion, there are far more cases of hate speech that are outright abuse to fellow users. While the big firms in the US, such as Facebook and Twitter, have struggled with this throughout the year, the European Commission has said that these firms simply aren’t doing enough, and is urging them to step and react quicker to hate speech, and to better police their own networks online.
Earlier this year, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter all signed up to an agreement to act within 24 hours of a report of hate speech on their networks. This was six or more months ago, and now the European Commission is ending the year with a warning to these firms. The EU’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, has said that “the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours”. Jourova did go on to say that within 48 hours of such a report the response rate becomes 80 percent, and that the 24 hour goal is achievable, but all the companies involved need to take things a little more seriously. The agreement that the companies signed earlier this year was a sort of compromise between the big firms and the EU, with this being a voluntary agreement, instead of leaving the EU no choice but introduce legislation to police these networks.
Whether or not these firms will step up after these comments is unclear, but firms such as Facebook and Twitter, specifically the latter, have been struggling with this sort of thing for some time now. Facebook, on their part, has been working hard to address these fears and is working on innovative new ways to police things such as live video, for instance. For the European Commission, this is a big part of their push to make the Internet a safer and more open place, and given that these US-based firms make up the majority of activity online, it’s unsurprising that the commission is looking to them to act quicker than they are now.