US tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft are being asked to act faster to tackle online hate speech or face laws forcing them to do so.
The European Commission issued the warning on Sunday, six months after the companies signed up to a voluntary code of conduct to take action in Europe within 24 hours, Reuters reports.
This follows rising concerns triggered by the refugee crisis and terror attacks.
This included removing or disabling access to the content if necessary, better cooperation with civil society organizations and the promotion of “counter-narratives” to hate speech.
The code of conduct is largely a continuation of efforts that the companies already take to counter hate speech on their websites, such as developing tools for people to report hateful content and training staff to handle such requests.
However, a report commissioned by EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova showed that compliance with the code is far from satisfactory, the commission said.
“In practice, the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours,” a Commission official said.
“After 48 hours, the figure is more than 80 percent. This shows that the target can realistically be achieved, but this will need much stronger efforts by the IT companies.”
The Commission said it may enact laws to force swifter action.
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