On Tuesday, a number of known tech companies have agreed to work together with the European Union in order to enforce a new code of conduct with regards to hate speech. The move is in order to counter a rise of online racial comments following the terrorist attacks that took place last year as well as the ongoing refugee crisis taking place in Europe.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, and Microsoft to Assist the European Union in Cracking Down on Hate Speech
The group that will work together with the European Union includes known tech giants such as Twitter, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, and social networking portal Facebook. Each member of the party agreed to review and take down hate speech content online within the 24-hours after the agreement has been made.
Individual European countries are known to be in contact with different social media platforms for quite some time now in light of concerns pertaining to hate speech. Vera Jourova, EU Justice Commissioner, stated the following according to Reuters: “The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize your people.”
There is an ongoing discussion pertaining to the advantages of freedom of expression as well as the protection of individuals from the threat of discrimination. This has sparked strong feelings on either side of the debate. Both Europe and the United States have traditionally looked at freedom of speech and expression over the World Wide Web in different thoughts. For the US, freedom of speech is protected by that of the First Amendment, even if it is offensive, however, the law dictates that unless the speech will be directed against a specific person or specifically promotes danger against an individual, then it can be used against him/her.
As for the council of Europe’s Manual on Hate Speech pertaining to freedom of expression, unlike freedom of thought, it is not an absolute right. Also, and although the European Convention on Human Rights protects free speech, it also supplies for reasonable legal limitations in the face of disorders and crimes.
The European Union, along with the tech firms, vows to crack down on hate speech that are targeted against certain religions, racial, or ethnic groups that would even stem back memories from the rise of the Nazi Party for many Europeans, according to Frederick Lawrence, a senior research scholar over at Yale Law School, who explained to The Christian Science Monitor by way of a phone interview.