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Twitter and other social media apps fail to remove hate speech, says EU review

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Twitter took longer to review and remove less hateful content in 2022 than in the previous year, according to European Union data released Thursday.

The European Union The figures were published as part of an annual assessment of online platforms’ compliance with the 27-country bloc’s code of conduct on misinformation.

Twitter It wasn’t alone — most of the other tech companies that joined the voluntary code also scored worse. But the numbers may herald Twitter’s problems complying with the European Union’s tough new post-owner internet rules Elon Musk It fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time workers and countless contractors responsible for overseeing content and other critical tasks.

The EU report, carried out over six weeks in the spring, found that Twitter rated more than half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, down from 82 percent in 2021.

In comparison, the amount of material marked Facebook decreased within 24 hours to 64 percent, Instagram decreased to 56.9 percent and YouTube decreased to 83.3 percent. Tik Tok It came in at 92 percent, which is the only company that has improved.

The amount of hate speech Twitter removed after it was reported fell to 45.4 percent, from 49.8 percent a year earlier. TikTok’s removal rate dropped by a quarter, to 60 percent, while Facebook and Instagram saw only small declines. Only YouTube’s removal rate has increased, rising to 90 percent.

“It is alarming to see a downward trend in the review of notifications of illegal hate speech by social media platforms,” ​​European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova wrote on Twitter. “Online hate speech is the scourge of the digital age and platforms must live up to their obligations.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Emails to several employees in the company’s European communications team bounced back as undeliverable.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last month sparked widespread concerns that peddlers of falsehoods and misinformation would be allowed to flourish on the site. Billionair Tesla The CEO, who has repeatedly expressed his belief that Twitter has become too restrictive, has reinstated suspended accounts, including those of former President Donald Trump.

Twitter faces more scrutiny in Europe by the middle of next year, when new EU rules aimed at protecting internet users’ online safety begin to apply on the largest online platforms. Violations can result in hefty fines of up to 6 percent of the company’s annual global revenue.

French online regulator Arcom said it had received a response from Twitter after writing to the company earlier this week to say it was concerned about the impact of employee departures on Twitter’s “ability to maintain a safe environment for its users.”

Arcom also asked the company to confirm that it can meet its “legal obligations” in combating hate speech online and that it is committed to implementing the new EU online rules. Arcom said it had received a response from Twitter and that it would “consider its response,” without giving further details.

Tech companies that have signed up to the EU’s disinformation law agree to be bound by measures aimed at curbing misinformation and to provide regular reports on whether they are keeping their promises, though with little punishment.


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