Technology giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft have pledged to join forces in tackling “illegal hate speech” within 24 hours of it being reported.
A joint statement released by the firms and the European Commission confirmed that the EU will “together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft (‘the IT companies’) today unveil a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.”
The initiative will guarantee that the firms “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.”
In the statement, Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, stressed “there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”
According to Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, the site needs to “balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment. There’s no place for hate speech on Facebook,” she argued.
The companies added that it remains a “challenge” to find the correct balance between freedom of expression and hate speech in user content across their platforms.
However the move will raise questions as to what is defined as hate speech, with Facebook previously censoring anti-immigration sentiment in Europe at the request of German chancellor Angela Merkel, following the influx of millions of undocumented migrants across the continent.
Sources also told Breitbart in February that Twitter had been ‘shadow banning’ users who were politically conservative. This followed Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos having his verification badge removed without explanation.