The European Commission has agreed this week along with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft a code of conduct with IT companies in order to combat the spread of hate speech online. The agreement means social media companies will have to swiftly review "hate speech" online when it is reported. It has arisen in part, due to the recent wave of terrorist attacks across Europe and the rest of the world.
The EU Commission defines hate speech as "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."
The EU says Member States "may sanction or prevent" content that contains "serious incitement to violence and hatred". Moreover, the IT companies will carry out staff training as well as internal procedures to guarantee that appropriate comments are removed in less than 24 hours and in some cases, disable access to such content. Partnerships with civil society organisations will also be strengthened in order to cooperate in flagging content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct.
Commenting on the new agreement, Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb stated: “There is no room for hate speech in society, whether this be articulated in person or online. It makes complete sense to apply the same rules to the digital world as we already do in day to day life”.