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Code of Conduct on countering online hate speech: results of evaluation show important progress

June 26th 2017

In 2016, the European Commission and four major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft) launched a Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech. On 1st June 2017, the European Commission released the results of an evaluation of the Code of Conduct. It was carried out by NGOs and public bodies in 24 EU countries. The results being presented today show that, one year after its adoption, the Code of Conduct has delivered some important progress, while some challenges remain.

Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online: one year after

Some of the key points are:

  • On average, in 59% of the cases, the social media platforms responded to notifications concerning illegal hate speech by removing the content. This is more than twice the level of 28% that was recorded six months earlier.
  • The amount of notifications reviewed within 24 hours improved from 40% to 51% in the same six months period. Facebook is however the only company that fully achieves the target of reviewing the majority of notifications within the day.
  • Compared to the situation six months ago, the social media platforms have become better at treating notifications coming from citizens in the same way as those coming from organisations which use trusted reporters channels. However, there are still some differences in the removal rates. The overall removal rates remain lower when a notification originates from the public.
  • Finally, the monitoring showed that while Facebook sends systematic feedback to users on how their notifications have been assessed, practices differed considerably among the social media platforms. Quality of feedback motivating the decision is an area where further progress can be made.

The geographical coverage of the exercise included: 31 civil society organisations and 3 national authorities, located in 24 EU countries, who sent notifications relating to hate speech deemed illegal to the IT companies during a period of 7 weeks, (20 March to 5 May 2017). They included Unia in Belgium (who reported 41 cases), Fundación Secretariado Gitano (member of the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination) in Spain (who reported 51 cases), and UNAR in Italy (who reported 197 cases).

Check the European Commission webpage for more information, including the Factsheet, the European Commission press release and Questions and Answers on the Code of Conduct.