Tech giants could face EU fines for not acting fast enough on extremist posts


In his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed that Google, Facebook and Twitter remove online extremist content within an hour of being notified of its existence or face fines.

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In March, the EU gave the firms three months to show they were acting quickly to take down radical posts. EU regulators have since concluded the companies haven’t done enough.

The Commission’s new proposal, which will need backing from the EU countries and European Parliament, calls for the tech companies to be fined up to 4 percent of their annual global revenue if they systematically fail to remove online extremist content within an hour of being notified (The New York Times). The proposal would also require internet platforms to provide annual transparency reports proving they’re trying to tackle abuse.

The proposed measure would go further than the current voluntary code of conduct on hate speech, which Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube joined in 2016. That code requires participants to, if necessary, remove hateful online content within 24 hours of being notified and does not give governments the right to take down content.

According to the latest review of the code, signatory companies have removed 70 percent of content reported to them as illegal hate speech within 24 hours (European Commission). Other companies have since announced they plan to join the voluntary code (The Verge).

What are the rules for removing online extremist content in other countries?

Germany –  In October 2017, Germany introduced a law mandating social media sites remove hate speech within 24 hours of being notified, or face fines of up to €50 million ($57 million), according to Techcrunch.

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