Fighting illegal online hate speech: first assessment of the new code of conduct

Today, the European Commission publishes the first evaluation of how IT companies applied the code of conduct to combat illegal online hate speech. The code was agreed with the IT companies (Facebook, Google (YouTube), Twitter and Microsoft) on 31 May 2016. Initial results show that 28 % of all notifications of alleged illegal online hate speech lead to the removal of the flagged content. However, only 40 % of all notifications are currently reviewed under 24 hours, while the aim of the code of conduct is to review the majority within 24 hours. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said:” It is our duty to protect people in Europe from incitement to hatred and violence online. This is the common goal of the code of conduct. The last weeks and months have shown that social media companies need to live up to their important role and take up their share of responsibility when it comes to phenomena like online radicalisation, illegal hate speech or fake news. While IT Companies are moving in the right direction, the first results show that the IT companies will need to do more to make it a success. As part of the code of conduct IT companies pledged to review valid removal notifications against their community guidelines and where necessary national laws transposing the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia  in less than 24 hours and to remove or disable access to content, if necessary. 12 NGOs based in9 EU countries have analysed the responses to notifications over a period of six weeks. The findings indicate that among the 600 notifications made in total, 28% lead to a removal, 40% of all responses were received within 24 hours while another 43% arrived after 48 hours. The results will be discussed at the High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance on 7 December 2016, by justice ministers at the Justice Council on 8 December as well as at the EU Internet forum. A second monitoring exercise will take place in 2017 to assess progress and decide on next steps.