New code of conduct for IT companies fighting hate speech

In line with recent activity of the European Commission on combating hate speech and the spread of terrorist material and exploitation on communication channels, as well as protecting the freedom of speech, a new code of conduct for companies fighting hate speech was announced in May 2016.

As stated in the European Commission's press release, by signing the code of conduct, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft  - referred to as IT companies, "commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online. This will include the continued development of internal procedures and staff training to guarantee that they review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary."
Moreover, the press release also indicates various pledges of the IT companies presented in the code of conduct, such as:
  • To review notifications regarding illegal hate speech on their services so they can remove or disable access to such content.
  • To educate and raise awareness with their users about the types of content not permitted under their rules and community guidelines.
  • To provide information on the procedures for submitting notices, with a view to improving the speed and effectiveness of communication between the Member State authorities and the IT Companies. 
  • To encourage the provision of notices and flagging of content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct at scale by experts. 
  • To provide regular training to their staff on current societal developments and to exchange views on the potential for further improvement.
  • To intensify cooperation between themselves and other platforms and social media companies to enhance best practice sharing.
Prompt reactions tackling online hate speech have been a key focus for the European Commission in the past months, especially after the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and considering the spread of online extremism and radicalisation among young people.
The dialogue with IT companies to fight against hate speech was initiated following the EU Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in October 2015, and picked up upon in December 2015 by the EU Internet Forum in a bid to protect the public from the spread of terrorist material, and terrorist exploitation of communication channels to facilitate and direct their activities. 
Furthermore, the European Commission will continue to promote the adherence to this code of conduct to other relevant platforms and social media companies also.
The ‘Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online' can be found on the European Commission website.

Related news

A closer look at online hate speech for the International Day for Tolerance

Saturday, 16 November 2019 marks the United Nations International Day for Tolerance. This observance has been celebrated every year since 1995, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) adopted its Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.

Hate speech online – EU Code of Conduct ensures swift response

The fourth evaluation on the EU Code of Conduct has been published on Monday, 4 February 2019, for Safer Internet Day (SID) 2019, demonstrating that this initiative by the European Commission (EC) delivers successful results.

Youth against online hate culture

  • Youth
  • 07/12/2016
  • Guðný Rós, Youth panellist

At the recent Safer Internet Forum, Guðný Rós, a youth panellist from Iceland, participated in a panel on ‘Hate speech and radicalisation online'. Here she further shares her views on the topic and details how she has supported awareness raising actions in schools.

Why the No Hate Speech Movement?

The United Nations International Day of Tolerance takes place annually on 16 November. To mark the day, in this article, we hear about the global No Hate Speech Movement, organised by the Council of Europe.

‘Hands on Hack': the next Coding Jam @ the Future Classroom Lab

  • Awareness
  • 22/09/2016
  • European Coding Initiative

The European Coding Initiative, along with the European Schoolnet's Future Classroom Lab ambassadors and Learning Labs' network, will hold an international hackathon on 20 October 2016, where teams from schools and learning labs across Europe and beyond will have the chance to build and share their projects.

Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre participates in No Hate Speech Movement 2016-2017

  • Awareness
  • 29/01/2016
  • Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre

An inaugural meeting of the National Coordination Committee of the Council of Europe's ‘No Hate Speech Movement 2016-2017' took place on 28-29 January 2016 in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) joined the initiative and became a member of the Coordination Committee.