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    Facebook tackles hate speech better than Twitter, YouTube: European Commission Report

    Facebook tackles hate speech better than Twitter, YouTube: European Commission Report

    Facebook tackles hate speech better than Twitter, YouTube: European Commission Report
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    By Shruti Malhotra   IST (Updated)


    Global tech companies are now assessing 90 percent of flagged illegal hate speech within 24 hours and removing 71 percent of the content deemed so.

    Global tech companies are now assessing 90 percent of flagged illegal hate speech within 24 hours and removing 71 percent of the content deemed so, according to the European Commission's fifth evaluation of the 2016 Code of Conduct on countering such content online.
    Thirty-nine organizations from twenty-three member states and the United Kingdom sent 4,364 notifications relating to hate speech to IT companies during a period of six weeks (from November 4 to December 13, 2019).
    Facebook received the largest amount of notifications at 2,348, followed by Twitter at 1,396, YouTube at 464 and Instagram at 109. Jeuxvideo.com and Dailymotion were also part of the study.
    Assessment Time
    1. 90 percent of flagged content was assessed by the platforms within 24 hours compared to an assessment rate of 40 percent of contents in 2016.
    2. Facebook was fastest to react with 95.7 percent of notifications assessed within a day.
    3. YouTube responded within 24 hours to 81.5 percent of the flagged content, Twitter responded within a day 76.6 percent of the time.
    4. Instagram’s performance was quite positive, with 91.8 percent of notifications assessed in less than 24 hours and Jeuxvideo.com did so in all the cases.
    Removal Rate
    5. 71 percent of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech was removed by tech platforms in 2020, whereas only 28 percent of content was removed in 2016.
    6. The average removal rate, similar to the one recorded in the previous evaluations, shows that platforms continue to respect freedom of expression and avoid removing content that may not qualify as illegal hate speech.
    7. Removal rates varied depending on the severity of hateful content. On average, 83.5 percent of content calling for murder or violence of specific groups was removed, while content using defamatory words or pictures to name certain groups was removed in 57.8 percent of the cases. The findings suggest that the reviewers assess the content scrupulously and with full regard to protected speech.
    8. Facebook removed 87.6 percent of the content, YouTube 79.7 percent, and Twitter 35.9 percent.
    9. Facebook made further progress on removals compared to last year. YouTube remains at high standards while Twitter is not in target and the removal rate is lower than in 2019. Jeuxvideo.com removed all flagged content and Instagram 42 percent.
    Feedback to Users & Transparency
    10. Platforms responded and gave feedback to 67.1 percent of the notifications received. This is higher than in the previous monitoring exercise at 65.4 percent.
    11. However, only Facebook informs users systematically - 93.7 percent of notifications received feedback while all the other platforms need to work harder & make improvements.
    12. The response rate for Instagram is around 62.4 percent while the other platforms lag with Twitter at 43.8 percent, Jeuxvideo.com at 22.5 percent and YouTube at 8.8 percent.
    13. While Facebook emerged as the only tech company informing consistently both trusted flaggers and general users, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram tend to provide feedback more frequently when notifications come from trusted flaggers.
    Commenting on the findings of the evaluation, Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, said, "I welcome these good results. We should, however, not satisfy ourselves with these improvements and we should continue the good work. I urge the platforms to close the gaps observed in most recent evaluations, in particular on providing feedback to users and transparency. In this context, the forthcoming Digital Services Act will make a difference. It will create a European framework for digital services, and complement existing EU actions to curb illegal hate speech online. The Commission will also look into taking binding transparency measures for platforms to clarify how they deal with illegal hate speech on their platforms.”
    The Code of Conduct
    The EU’s Framework Decision on Combatting Racism and Xenophobia criminalizes public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. As defined in this Framework Decision, hate speech is a criminal offence also when it occurs online.
    The European Commission launched the Code of Conduct in May 2016 along with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube to respond to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic hate speech online.
    The code aims to ensure that requests to remove content are dealt with swiftly & efficiently. Tech platforms commit to reviewing the majority of requests in less than 24 hours and to removing the content if necessary, while respecting the fundamental principle of freedom of speech.
    Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Microsoft, Instagram, Dailymotion, Snapchat and Jeuxvideo.com are all part of the Code. Short video sharing platform TikTok has also joined the EU's disinformation code of conduct this week.
    On the importance of the code of conduct to counter illegal hate speech online, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, European Commission said, “The Code of conduct remains a success story when it comes to countering illegal hate speech online. It offered urgent improvements while fully respecting fundamental rights. It created valuable partnerships between civil society organisations, national authorities and the IT platforms. Now the time is ripe to ensure that all platforms have the same obligations across the entire Single Market and clarify in legislation the platforms' responsibilities to make users safer online. What is illegal offline remains illegal online.”
    In a statement on EU’s evaluation report, Guy Rosen, VP Integrity at Facebook said, “We don’t allow hate speech on Facebook. Over the past few years, we’ve invested in new technologies and improved our processes to find and remove hate speech from our platform. While we recognize we have more to do, these results suggest we are moving in the right direction and have systems in place which continue to lead our industry.”
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