Facebook and Google vow to delete hate speech on their sites — can it work?
After years of pressure from European authorities and one formal investigation into the handling of racist, incendiary and threatening comments, Facebook and Google have vowed to tackle the issue of hate speech on their platforms.
The two tech giants, along with fellow companies Microsoft and Twitter, have said they will comply with European Union recommendations that include removing comments reported as being hate speech within 24 hours.
The new partnership, as Time Magazine reported, comes as Germany and other European nations deal with cultural backlash to the influx of Syrian refugees flooding the continent.
The logistics of such an undertaking — responding to thousands if not millions of complaints per day — shouldn’t be underestimated, but some social networks have already made some headway. Reuters reported that Twitter has suspended more than 125,000 accounts since 2015 for terrorist-related content connected to ISIS.
And as other, smaller tech companies like Twitter’s Periscope and Airbnb follow the industry lead and institute their own zero-tolerance policies on racist speech, some civil rights groups are worried that the move hinders freedom of expression online.
Social media and tech companies said they felt confident they would be able to cut out the hate speech without infringing any users’ rights of free expression.
“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” Karen White, Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, said in the Time story. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”