June 1, 2017
There’s no denying that social media has become part of everyday life. You RSVP to events, you meet friends, and you check in on family members through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube more than you do in real life. However, these platforms have opened the door for trolls to spew hate speech at the click of a button, creating a serious problem for these tech giants. Fortunately, they’re finally doing something about it.
According to a statement from the European Commission, “the companies have made significant progress in following up on their commitments” to eradicate hate speech from their platforms in a fast and efficient manner. This progress report came one year after four major companies (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft) entered into a voluntary Code of Conduct with the European Commission aimed at countering illegal online hate speech.
“The results of our second evaluation of the Code of Conduct are encouraging,” said Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality in the statement. “The companies are now removing twice as many cases of illegal hate speech and at a faster rate when compared to six months ago. This is an important step in the right direction and shows that a self-regulatory approach can work, if all actors do their part.
The effort from these social media platforms is more than “a step in the right direction.” In addition to removing twice as many cases of illegal hate speech and at a faster rate, they have also improved on the amount of notifications reviewed within 24 hours from 40 percent to 51 percent. Plus, with added notification and feedback channels, these companies seem to making more than significant progress.
These numbers, while impressive, do not represent the final stages of addressing online hate speech. Yes, they are a step in the right direction but there is still a lot to accomplish in regards to addressing the troll problem on social media. Fortunately, the European Commission and these four companies are committed to continuing this progress.
“Companies carry a great responsibility and need to make further progress to deliver on all the commitments,” said Jourová.
Hate speech has been social media’s largest problem since it’s inception. According to another study, 75 percent of social media users following debates online had come across some form of hate speech. Almost half of these respondents said that this deterred them from engaging in online discussions. That’s a lot.
Unfortunately, the hate speech problem is a hard one to address, particularly in the US where the term “freedom of speech” appears more often than “happy birthday.” If social media companies want to truly commit to the Code of Conduct established by the European Commission, they’re going to have to step on a few toes along the way.
Read more about social media trends here on Tech.Co
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