European Commission Agreement with Social Media Companies on Hate Speech
Brussels – 31 May 2016 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute welcomes the agreement the European Commission reached today with social media companies on combating illegal hate speech. The signatories to this code of conduct commit themselves to accept EU law, which prohibits incitement to violence and hatred as well as denying the Holocaust and other genocides, as the relevant benchmark for deciding whether posts have to be removed. As part of the deal, social media companies also promised to respond to the majority of valid complaints and if necessary remove illegal content within 24 hours.
“For too long, social media companies claimed their ‘community standards’ are sufficient to deal with the haters on their platforms. For too long, users flagging posts such as ‘Kill all Jews’ were frequently told though such calls to murder didn’t violate these same ‘community standards.’ We hope this agreement will help ensure social media platforms are no longer abused by those who threaten people's lives and the very values our free societies are built on,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.
“We trust the European Commission and EU Member States will monitor closely whether this agreement is properly implemented and take the appropriate measures should the code of conduct prove to be ineffective,” Schwammenthal added. “We also urge social media companies to become more transparent about their internal review process of complaints and the training and background of those employees making the decisions on removing or not removing content. Finally, we need reassurance that the majority of valid complaints addressed within the first 24 hours includes the most serious cases, specifically all calls to violence, and that the remainders will be answered within a very short period. Ultimately, the goal must be to see all valid complaints to be answered within a day.”
During its May 2015 “Strategy Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism” in Brussels, AJC unveiled its action plan for the EU to address the intensifying crisis of anti-Semitism. As part of this plan, AJC called “on the EU and its Member States to develop and enforce procedures to detoxify social media... Internet Service Providers are free to—and should—exclude raw hate speech, or speech that is nothing more than a call for illegal violence.”