The European Union’s unelected executive body has warned Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that it will consider new censorship laws if the social media giants do not censor content deemed “illegal” within 24 hours of it being posted.
The European Commission had formerly taken a “non-legislative approach” to the problem that it termed “the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe” by having certain American tech companies agree to a code of conduct.
Under the agreement, companies like Facebook and Twitter would ban individuals who espouse ideas that run counter to the EU-sanctioned narrative and would report peddlers of so-called “hate speech” and “fake news” to national law enforcement authorities. They would also promote “independent counter-narratives” sponsored by the EU.
Now, the European Commission has released a new report claiming that posts flagged as hate speech are only being removed within the 24-hour window in Germany and France. In other European countries, only 40 percent of cases had been adequately handled within 24 hours.
Free speech activists throughout Europe and beyond have lambasted the EU regulations for playing fast and loose with its definition of “hate speech,” expressing concern that the Commission is merely leveraging the code of conduct to stifle freedom of speech for those who dissent from viewpoints deemed appropriate.
Critics have also pointed to the fact that the European Commission is comprised of unelected officials chosen by the organization’s president, insisting that matters related to censorship should be handled by national parliaments instead.
Watch more about the EU’s code of conduct below: