In May 2016, Brussels put the big Internet companies before a dilemma: either they were fully employed to eliminate the racist, xenophobic and sexist illegal content that runs on the Internet, or the EU would tighten the screws with a regulation before which they would respond legally. The voluntary way was then broken through a code of conduct to which Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube adhered.
More than two and a half years later, five other companies have joined the list -Instagram, Google+, Dailymotion, Snapchat and Webedia-, and the European Commission affirms to be satisfied with the result: according to the fourth evaluation of the code, 72% of the publications of this type were eliminated by the companies that own the networks where they were uploaded, a figure much higher than 28% in December 2016 or 59% in May 2017, but only slightly higher than 70% in December of the year past.
European laws define the illegal hate speech as public incitement to violence or hatred of certain groups or individuals because of their race, religion, origin or sexual orientation. The powerful speaker of social networks has allowed cyberspace to launch an enormous amount of offensive content against these groups. And the Commission believes that the owners of these public forums can not escape responsibility. "We are living a crucial moment for the new technologies sector, or they show us that they can enforce the rules that exist in the world offline, or must face regulatory initiatives, "warned Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova on Monday.
The Czech policy maintains regular contact with the EU's justice ministers to inform them of the progress of the code of conduct. Your balance is positive for now. Not only are more publications eliminated, but also the reaction time has improved: almost 89% of the notifications received are answered within a period of less than 24 hours. A little over two years ago they were only 40%, less than half. Facebook is at the forefront in the speed of response: 92.5% of the alerts it receives have been processed in less than a day, and 82% of them have been eliminated.
As the Commission explains, for a message to be erased it is not enough to say a simple "I hate you" or another equivalent expression: it must be combined with the threat of using violence or references to race, religion, origin or sexual condition Of the suppressed contents, the most common were included in the categories of xenophobia (17%), sexual orientation (15.6%) and hatred against Muslims (13%). Also noteworthy are the publications against Gypsies, Jews or Africans.
Brussels has asked the multinationals owners of the networks forcefulness against the massive presence of outbursts of this type in social networks, but requires them to be careful not to turn it into an instrument of censorship and violate freedom of expression. Summarize it in one sentence: in case of doubt, it is better not to eliminate it. The Commission has also involved 35 social organizations throughout the continent in the task. In Spain, the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals and the Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia have been the entities designated to check whether the technology companies truly comply with their commitment to clean the Network of grievances against minorities.
The issue has become especially sensitive amid the rise of the extreme right in many European parliaments, a rise that has been accompanied by a hardening of anti-immigration rhetoric, not only from the anonymous keyboard, but fed from public pulpits of Executives such as the Italian.
The EU has now opted for the agreement with the Internet giants and has not promoted EU legislation, however, warns that it can take that route at any time if there is a relaxation of surveillance. Among the demands of the Community Executive is that this control is not the task of algorithms, and corresponds to human teams. "Companies have hired thousands of employees to do it, I've been to one of those centers in Dublin and I can say they have one of the least pleasant jobs in the world, they're heroes of the digital age," Jourova said.
Brussels has always been in favor of the unity of action before a problem that seems to have come to stay, but unanimity is not total. Germany has not waited for its partners and has approved its own laws against hate speech on the Internet. Berlin fine with up to 50 million euros to those companies that have not eliminated illegal content within a maximum period of 24 hours.