The European Council has approved a set of proposals that would require companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to block videos containing hate speech and incitements to terrorism. The proposals, which were approved by EU ministers Tuesday, will still need to be passed by the European Parliament before becoming law, as Reuters reports.
If approved, the regulations would be the first at the EU level to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech published on their platforms. European lawmakers have called on tech companies to do more to curb the spread of hate speech and terrorist propaganda, though there are concerns that aggressive legislation could curtail free speech.
Under the proposal, social media services would be required to implement mechanisms to block videos that promote terrorism, incite hatred, or contain hate speech. Citing an EU diplomat, Reuters reports that the regulations would not apply to live video platforms, such as Facebook Live.
“We need to take into account new ways of watching videos.”
The proposals also call for on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to devote at least 30 percent of their libraries to European films and TV shows. The European Commission had previously proposed a 20 percent quota for European content. Services such as Netflix could also be required to contribute to the production of films and TV shows in EU member states.
“It is essential to have one common set of audiovisual rules across the EU and avoid the complication of different national laws,” Andrus Ansip, vice president of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative, said in a statement Tuesday. “We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way.”
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft signed on last year to a voluntary “code of conduct” in Europe, under which the companies agreed to review and remove content flagged as hateful within 24 hours. But a study commissioned by the Commission in December 2016 found that the tech companies have largely failed to comply with the agreement.
Lawmakers in Germany are considering far more aggressive legislation that would impose fines of up to €50 million ($56 million) on social media companies that fail to swiftly remove hate speech or other illegal content.
In his press statement, Ansip said negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission will meet to discuss the proposed rules “in the coming weeks.”