BRUSSELS - Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N), Google’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube and Microsoft (MSFT.O) on Tuesday agreed to an EU code of conduct to tackle online hate speech within 24 hours in Europe.
EU governments have been trying in recent months to get social platforms to crack down on rising online racism following the refugee crisis and terror attacks, with some even threatening action against the companies.
As part of the pledge agreed with the European Commission, the web giants will review the majority of valid requests for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to the content if necessary.
They will also strengthen their cooperation with civil society organizations who help flag hateful content when it goes online and promote “counter-narratives” to hate speech.
“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 young people,” EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said.
Germany got Google, Facebook and Twitter to agree to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours last year and even launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over its alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.
“There’s no place for hate speech on Facebook,” said Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook.
“With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment.”
The code of conduct is largely a continuation of efforts that the companies already take to counter hate speech on their websites, such as developing tools for people to report hateful content and training staff to handle such requests.
Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts since the middle of 2015 for threatening or promoting terror acts, primarily related to Islamic State.
The United States has undertaken similar efforts to entice the cooperation of tech companies in combating online radicalization, focusing on promoting “counter-narratives” to extremist content.
EU ministers had called for cooperation with tech companies to be stepped up after the Brussels attacks in March.
Jewish lobbyists, frequently the target of hate speech, welcomed the code of conduct.
“This is a historic agreement that couldn’t arrive at a better time,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, President, European Jewish Congress.
Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 17 September 2015 19:52.
When the most prominent publicist and right hand man of the serving government of Hungary uses language such as this, it isn’t time to be discouraged about White Nationalist efforts. It is time to increase initiatives: our voices are being heard. Mainstream politicians have begun speaking in explicit terms of our racial interest:
“The refugee crisis in Hungary and Europe is a racial war intended to annihilate White people.”
Zsolt Bayer, a co-founder of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, a long-time friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the right’s most prominent publicist, sees the current refugee crisis in Hungary and Europe as a racial war intended to annihilate white people. Mr. Bayer shared these thoughts at a rally in Budapest this past Sunday, attended by an estimated 1,500 people, and organized to protest a magazine cover in Hungary, which portrayed Mr. Orbán with a mustache that resembled that of Adolf Hitler. In this paper, I have suggested before that Fidesz and the far right Jobbik party are indistinguishable. Perhaps I was wrong, because based on Mr. Bayer’s speech, Fidesz is now more extreme than the ominous opposition party.
Mr. Bayer’s premise, that dark forces are conspiring against white people throughout the world, is framed in a quote from controversial author, historian and race theorist Noel Ignatiev. Mr. Ignatiev has long seen race as a social construct, something that Mr. Bayer fails to mention to his audience, who he left thinking that the American theorist wants to annihilate white people. Mr. Ignatiev has spoken about wanting to “abolish the privileges of the white race” and added: “The key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race, which means no more and no less than abolishing the privileges of the white skin.” Mr. Ignatiev, a long-time Marxist, is essentially suggesting that a type of constructed white identity carries with it automatic privilege, rendering equality between all races impossible. The theorist could have clearly phrased this in a less inflammatory matter, and his theories are Manichean and possibly somewhat outdated in the twenty-first century. But regardless: his overarching message of ingrained, implicit racism is worth considering.
The Fidesz co-founder portrays this Marxist academic as an influential thinker among western policymakers, a mover and a shaker, a man who walks the corridors of power with confidence and ease. This is simply not true, but Mr. Bayer’s audience is left thinking that a madman who wants to commit genocide against white people is a powerful voice in Washington.
“There are all kinds of weapons: traditional, chemical, atomic. And now we see that there are also racial weapons. This is the weapon that they, the invisible hands, employ against Europe and against the white race,” declared Mr. Bayer in Budapest.
The term “invisible hands,” within this context, is coded language, easily deciphered by everyone in that audience and on the Hungarian right as a reference to liberals, left-wingers and Jews. (Mr. Ignatiev is, himself, of Jewish origins.)
“Why has everyone, from everywhere and all at once, decided to start heading towards Europe? Why? Let us declare loudly and level-headedly: this is an artificial, manufactured mass migration. And its goal is the final and irreversible transformation of Europe’s ethnic and religious composition. And for this, they have already produced the necessary ideologies. According to the Harvard professor, the white race must be made to vanish,” said Mr. Bayer. At several times in his speech, the crowd, fired up by the orator, interrupted him.
The other “ideology” that Mr. Bayer dismisses is the fact that Europe’s population is ageing and dwindling, and that immigration is most likely the only way to ensure a large enough active adult population to keep pensions and social services sustainable. Mr. Bayer believes that European corporations want to employ “Syrian masons and Bedouin goat-herders” in their factories, rather than native European youth, because they represent cheap labour.
“Our leaders in Brussels want to sell Europe from over our heads and they want to destroy our Europe…Anyone who dares to oppose this automatically becomes a Nazi,” said Mr. Bayer, explaining to his audience why Orbán is often labeled extremist.
“But I have some bad news for these criminals, namely for the Austrian chancellor, the French foreign minister, the western journalists, who are liars to their very core and, of course, for the good-for-nothing people behind the Magyar Narancs publication: of the 500 million natives of Europe, 450 million do not want to see any more immigrants. The Hungarian prime minister represents their opinion,” declared the Fidesz publicist.
The crowd held up signs that read “Je suis Orbán,” amidst dozens of Hungarian and Szekler flags and the event’s organizers, the Forum for Civic Cooperation (Civil Összefogás Fórum – CÖF), a pseudo-NGO, fully in line with Fidesz party interests, declared that further protests were coming against the “liberal fascists” and those who criticize the prime minister.