On 31 May 2016, the European Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft (“the IT companies”) launched a code of conduct that aims to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.
“The IT Companies support the European Commission and EU Member States in the effort to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally. They share, together with other platforms and social media companies, a collective responsibility and pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world”.
“This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected” – Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said. The recent terror attacks “have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech”, social media being one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred.
In order to prevent the spread of illegal hate speech, it is essential to ensure that relevant national laws transposing the Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as the in the offline environment.
By signing this code of conduct, the IT companies commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online. The Commissioner welcomed the “commitment of worldwide IT companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.”
The IT companies will also endeavour to strengthen their ongoing partnerships with civil society organisations who will help flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct.
Read the full press release on European Commission’s website.
Download the Code of Conduct.