EU says social media is getting better at blocking hate speech

Instagram and Google+ will sign the EU’s hate speech code of conduct.

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In 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube signed on to a European Union code of conduct, agreeing to review all reports of hate speech on their platforms within 24 hours and taking down flagged posts if necessary. The EU has kept close tabs on the companies' performances since signing and today EU officials reported that the tech giants had improved substantially since May of last year. "Today's results clearly show that online platforms take seriously their commitment to review notifications and remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours," said European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip.

EU Commissioner Vĕra Jourová said in a press conference today that the social networks had together reviewed 81 percent of hate speech reports within 24 hours and removed 70 percent of reported posts. Last May, the four companies were managing to review 51 percent of reported hate speech within 24 hours and to remove just over 59 percent of that content, so today's numbers show marked improvement in timeliness. The EU reported that Facebook, which received most of the hate speech reports, reviewed flagged posts within 24 hours over 89 percent of the time, while YouTube and Twitter, which each had about half the amount of reported posts Facebook did, reviewed reports within the one-day timeframe over 62 percent and 80 percent of the time, respectively.

While the code of conduct is not a law, the EU has pursued legislation that would require action on hate speech. However, Jourová said that due to these recents stats, she's less likely to push for those sorts of legal routes. Germany, on the other hand, enacted a law last year that allows the government to fine social network companies up to €50 million (around $61 million) if they fail to remove hate speech from their platforms within 24 hours. It went into effect at the start of the year.

The European Commission said that Google+ and Instagram will sign the code of conduct as well, and Reuters reports that the Commission plans to issue recommendations on how these companies should handle extremist content next month.