Commission reaches agreement with major IT to counter illegal online hate speech efficiently and quickly

BRUSSELS, 31 May 2016 –The Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft today unveil a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

The definition of illegal online content is based on the Framework Decision on Combatting Racism and Xenophobia which criminalises the 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.

Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “The Internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech. The Code of Conduct against illegal online hate speech, agreed with IT companies today, will ensure that public incitement to violence to hatred has no place online. I welcome the commitment of worldwide IT companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.”

By signing this code of conduct, the IT companies commit to tackling quickly and efficiently illegal hate speech online. This will include the establishment of internal procedures and staff training to guarantee that a majority of illegal content is assessed and, where necessary, removed within 24 hours. IT companies will strengthen their partnerships with civil society organisations who are the main actors in flagging content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct. The partnership will also support civil society organisations in delivering effective anti-hate campaigns to countering hateful rhetoric online. The IT Companies and the European Commission agree to assess the public commitments in this code of conduct on a regular basis, including their impact. They also agree to further discuss how to promote transparency and encourage counter and alternative narratives. To this end, regular meetings will take place and a preliminary assessment will be reported to the High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and all forms of intolerance by the end of 2016.