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EU draft law would force sites to remove extremist content

It doesn't believe self-policing is good enough.
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Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The European Union is no longer convinced that self-policing is enough to purge online extremist content. The Financial Times has learned that the EU is drafting legislation to force Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other internet companies to delete material when law enforcement flags it as terrorist-related. While EU security commissioner Julian King didn't provide details of how the measure would work, a source said it would "likely" mandate removing that content within an hour of receiving notice, turning the existing voluntary guidelines into an absolute requirement.

King argued that a law was necessary as officials had "not seen enough progress" through the existing approach. Europeans "cannot afford to relax or become complacent" in dealing with extremism, he added.

The EU is poised to publish the draft legislation in September. The European Parliament and individual member nations would still have to wait for the finished proposal and vote on it before it could take effect, so it may be months later before there's any definitive action.

This won't necessarily be a challenge for major sites. YouTube noted that it often catches terrorist videos before authorities have even had a chance to flag them, and these companies are large enough that they can recruit more content moderators if necessary. It could be a more problematic demand for smaller sites, though, as they'll need to respond just as quickly as their larger counterparts without the same . A law could help by encouraging sites to think about anti-extremist strategies from the get go, but it might also create logistical headaches for sites with limited staff and tight budgets.

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