U.S. Internet giants Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. pledged to tackle online hate speech in less than 24 hours as part of a joint commitment with the European Union to combat the use of social media by terrorists.
Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The code of conduct arrives as Europe comes to terms with the bloody attacks in Paris and Brussels by Islamic State, which has used the Web and social media to spread its message of hate against its enemies. The companies said it remains a “challenge” to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and hate speech in the self-generated content on online platforms
“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” said Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, in the statement. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”