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An evaluation of how to fight online hate speech

Companies’ fighting of online hate speech slowing down

Companies are working slower to stop hate speech online. The EU Commission’s yearly evaluation of the code of conducts shows a decrease in companies’ notice-and-action results. The number of notifications reviewed by the companies within 24 hours dropped from 90.4% in 2020, to 81% in 2021, and 64.4% in 2022.  

“There is, however, a positive development on the companies’ frequency and quality of feedback to users, something which the Commission had been calling on companies to improve in the 2021 report.”

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The evaluation shows that:

  • Companies reviewed 64.4% of notifications within 24 hours, which shows a decrease as compared to the last two monitoring exercises (81% in 2021 and 90.4% in 2020). Only TikTok has increased its performance (from 82.5% in 2021 to 91.7% in 2022).
  • The removal rate was 63.6%, similar to 2021 (62.5%), but still lower than in 2020 (71%). YouTube improved its removal rate in 2022 (90.4%), as compared to 2021 (58.8%). All the other IT companies removed less content than in 2021, in some cases with minor variations (Facebook removed 69.1% in 2022 and 70.2% in 2021; Twitter removed 45.4% and 49.8%, respectively).
  • On average, 69.6% of content calling for murder or violence against specific groups was removed, while content using defamatory words or pictures to name certain groups was removed in 59.3% of the cases; showing a better response rate on the most serious manifestations of online hatred.
  • IT companies’ feedback to users improved in 2022 with respect to 2021. Many companies have done better, in particular TikTok (74.8% of notifications addressed, compared to 28.7% in 2021) and Instagram (72.6%, compared to 41.9% in 2021 and 62.4% in 2020).

To support the implementation of the Code of Conduct and address the gaps in notice-and-action, the IT companies and the network of trusted flagger organisations involved in the monitoring exercises have now agreed on an action framework, the Commission says. I

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The Digital Services Act (DSA) that entered into force on 16 includes rules for platforms’ responsibilities and it will also further support co-regulatory frameworks. The Commission indicates that there could be a revision of the Code of Conduct in 2023.

The Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia criminalises 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.

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