Tech giants agree to police hate speech, but only in Europe

Online attacks on social media platforms continue unabated on the other side of the Atlantic.

hate speech

Online Hate Speech:

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The attitude with which authorities are treating giant technology companies continues to diverge on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean with Europe forcing Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft into regulating online hate speech.

The four companies on Tuesday agreed to review and remove, if necessary, the majority of hateful content on their various platforms within 24 hours of being notified of it.

The European Commission is also requiring the companies to “continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives, and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.”

The efforts are in response to rising hate speech and terrorist propaganda being found on social media platforms.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” said Vĕra Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality, in a statement.

“Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and to spread violence and hatred.”

The rules come on the heels of new antitrust charges against Google, announced last month. The European Commission feels the company used its Android phone operating system to squeeze out rivals and torqued its search results in favour of its own services. Google is facing big fines if found guilty.

Meanwhile, here in North America, there are virtual crickets on both issues, with the hate speech problem in particular best exemplified by another new blow-up in the gaming community.

After announcing a delay to the upcoming No Man’s Sky, Hello Games’ founder Sean Murray took to Twitter to reveal what is sadly inevitable when it comes to video games today:

Worse still, the threats didn’t stop with just the developers. Jason Schreier, news editor for games site Kotaku, also got his share:

The stark difference between Europe and North America is summed up best by a follow-up tweet from Schreier a few days later:

The “char limit” reference is in regards to Twitter’s recent announcement that it will no longer count photos or user names in tweets against its 140-character restriction.

Schreier correctly points out that social media companies are focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time, at least in North America. As the European example shows, they may never get around to cleaning up their yards unless forced to by authorities.

With luck, the tech giants will take the new European rules as an opportunity to roll out hate speech safeguards everywhere they do business. That seems a little more urgent than making minor cosmetic tweeks to their services.

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