According to the EU, social media companies are beginning to do a better job of managing hate speech online. In a review of its code of conduct, the EU found that over social media companies had improved their ability to counter hate speech significantly. Although, the report did point out that there is still much more that can be done.
As Engadget reports, the code is not legally binding, however, many social media companies have signed up to it. These include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft originally, then more recently Google, Snapchat and Instagram also joined.
Improving counteraction of hate speech
The EU report stated that since 2016 companies have generally taken steps forward to counter hate speech on their platforms. Platforms now assess 90% of flagged content by the platforms within 24 hours, this is compared to 40% in 2016.
Additionally, companies removed 71% of the content deemed illegal hate speech. A long way up from 28% in 2016. It also found that the average removal rate showed the platforms were continuing to respect free speech. Even alongside its actions against hateful speech.
Facebook appeared to be one of the best performing platforms. It gave feedback on notifications received systematically, whilst other companies needed to improve. This comes as Facebook recently announced a voting hub to provide users with consistent and accurate information on its platform.
More still needs to be done
The report was quick to point out that although improvements had been made, more can be done. It set out a range of steps that social media companies should look to take in their counteraction of hate speech.
These include ongoing reflection and review of systems designed to strengthen counteracting hate speech.
Additionally, the review recommended all platforms consider setting up effective notice-and-action systems. This would create a more efficient process to manage hate speech online
The EU also committed to continuing facilitation of discussions between IT companies and civil society organizations. This is so these organizations can foster better working relationships. As a result, the plan would be to create a mutual understanding of local legal specificities of hate speech.
Overall, it is great to see that social media companies are taking hate speech seriously. It is also a positive step that the EU is recognizing that they are making positive steps.
However, it is clear the war on hate speech is not one. Much more needs to be done over the coming years so social media companies cannot take their foot off the pedal.
With Twitter coming under increasing pressure from the Whitehouse for its actions against President Trump it could be a difficult ride for social media companies going forward. However, hopefully, they can remain firm and continue to tackle hate speech effectively.