Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft Join Forces With EU to Crack down Online Hate Speech

By Jenn Loro - 02 Jun '16 09:53AM

Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft have pledged to join forces with the European Union in a recently launched online 'code of conduct' in an effort to combat hate speech that has plagued the social media for years.

The abovementioned four internet titans have all been tapped to help in the drafting of the said code aimed at weakening racist and xenophobic messages across the EU. Country-to-country enforcement remains a challenge which the drafters of the code are trying to deal with.

Following recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris and the ongoing refugee crisis at Europe's doorsteps, EU governments have been trying their best to rein in hate speech with some threatening legal actions against companies that are not willing to cooperate in anti-online racism efforts.

According to the Reuters, the web giants will look into government requests for removal of hate-laden speech, remarks, and comments including the removal of access to racist and xenophobic contents if the situation requires within 24 hours.

"The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people," EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said as quoted from EU's press release.

As per The Guardian, hate speech is narrowly defined in the document as "all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin." To offset the excesses of the band, the code underscores the importance of the right to freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, some civil society groups express doubt over the lack of transparency and public participation in the crafting of the said code. The European Digital Rights (EDRi) and Access Now blasted the EU for putting companies at the helm of executing the law which should have been the function of governments. The group will look into the code's possible violations of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, RT News reported.

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