EU tells Facebook and others to stop hate speech -- because terrorism???

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft agree to pointless EU edict. But Commissioner Vĕra Jourová is ever so proud.

EU Facebook

The European Union has told social platforms such as Facebook to do something about hate speech. And, yes, this is indeed something -- something they're already doing.

And does it surprise you to learn that this "code of conduct" is being justified in the name of combating terrorism? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers are ever so glad they won't be subjected to hate speech any longer. Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

What’s the craic? Julia Fioretti and Foo "bar" Yun Chee report—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft back EU hate speech rules:

Facebook, Twitter, Google's YouTube and Microsoft...agreed to an EU code of conduct to tackle online hate speech. [They] will review the majority of valid requests for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to [illegal] content.

They will also...promote "counter-narratives" to hate speech. ... The United States has undertaken similar efforts...focusing on promoting "counter-narratives" to extremist content.

Are you impressed? Alexander J. Martin isn't—EU bureaucrats claim credit for making 'illegal online hate speech' even more illegal:

The European Commission has claimed the credit...despite the companies already following practices demanded by EU bureaucrats. ... Under the code, IT companies will have an obligation to [do what] national laws in the EU already require them to do.

[It's] a particularly difficult area for legislation. ... The European Court of Human Rights has stated that...freedom of expression “is [also] applicable to [words] that offend, shock or disturb.”

Who is responsible for this bureaucratic bungling? Vĕra Jourová is the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality:

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 radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred. This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected. 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.

Ahhh, I see. Because terrorism! Romain Dillet crunches the background—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft agree to remove hate speech across the EU :

ISIS has been successfully using social media to recruit fighters. [And] the European economic recession has fostered far-right parties, leading to more online antisemitism and xenophobia. [So] now, four tech companies are making a formal pledge at the European level.

[They] will have to find the right balance between freedom of expression and hateful content. ... They’ll have dedicated teams [of] poor employees who will have to review awful things every day.

It’s encouraging to see tech companies working together on a sensitive issue like this.

Good grief. Liam Deacon and Raheem Kassam wax multi-cultural—Pledge To Suppress Loosely Defined ‘Hate Speech’:

[It's] been branded “Orwellian” by Members of the European Parliament, and digital freedom groups have already pulled out of any further discussions...calling the new policy “lamentable”. ... The platforms have also promised to engage in...the re-education of supposedly hateful users.

[Independent] Janice Atkinson MEP [said] “Anyone who has read 1984 sees its very re-enactment live. ... The Commission has been itching to shut down free speech. ... It’s a frightening path to totalitarianism.”

European Digital Rights (EDRi) announced its decision to pull out of future discussions...stating it does not have confidence in the “ill-considered code”.

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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