IT companies have become less efficient in removing illegal hate speech online, according to a survey by the European Commission evaluating the Code of Conduct on countering such speech. IT companies reviewed 81% of notifications within 24 hours and removed an average of 62.5% of flagged content – lower than the average recorded in 2019 and 2020
“While some companies have improved, results for others have clearly worsened. As in previous monitoring rounds, the main weakness remains insufficient feedback to users’ notifications.”
The Commission calls upon IT companies to reinforce the dialogue with trusted flaggers and Civil Society Organisations to address the gaps in reviewing notifications, taking action and to improve their feedback to users. The Commission’s proposed Digital Services Act (DSA) includes legal framework for countering illegal content.
Commissioner Věra Jourová, responsible for Values and Transparency, said: Our unique Code has brought good results but the platforms cannot let the guard down and need to address the gaps. And gentlemen agreement alone will not suffice here. The Digital Services Act will provide strong regulatory tools to fight against illegal hate speech online.”
The evaluation shows that on average:
- IT companies assessed 81% of the notifications in less than 24 hours, which is lower than the 2020’s average of 90,4%.
- IT companies removed 62,5% of the content notified to them, which is lower than the average of 71% recorded in 2019 and 2020.
- Removal rates varied depending on the severity of hateful content. 69% of content calling for murder or violence against specific groups was removed, while 55% of the content using defamatory words or pictures aiming at certain groups was removed. Conversely, in 2020, the respective results were 83,5% and 57.8%.
- IT companies gave feedback to 60,3% of the notifications received, which is lower than during the previous monitoring exercise (67.1%).
- In this monitoring exercise, sexual orientation is the most commonly reported ground of hate speech (18,2%) followed by xenophobia (18%) and anti-gypsyism (12.5%).