The European Commission wants Facebook, Google to remove terrorist content within an hour after being flagged

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The European Commission has sent out expansive guidelines aimed at Facebook, Google, and other tech companies on removing terrorist and other illegal content online. The commission outlined recommendations, which apply to all forms of illegal content, including terrorist media, child sexual abuse, counterfeit products, copyright infringement, and material that incites hatred and violence. The recommendations also specify clearer procedures, more efficient tools, and stronger safeguards including human oversight and verification, so something that’s incorrectly flagged can be restored.

As part of the new guidelines, the commission demands that companies remove terrorist content without an hour after it gets referred, stating that such content is most harmful in the first few hours they appear online.

Vice president of the European Commission, Andrus Ansip, said:

“While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before – showing that self-regulation can work – we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens’ security, safety and fundamental rights.”

Automated detection, tools to prevent re-uploads, and an improved referral system between EU member states are some other edicts the commission is recommending. This is the latest in the EU’s efforts to tackle illegal content.

The commission is suggesting these operational measures as a soft law before it decides whether or not to propose legislation. The recommendations are non-binding, but they can still be used as legal references in court, notes The Wall Street Journal. The commission says they are designed to make the process of flagging down and removing inappropriate content faster and to reinforce cooperation between companies, trusted flaggers, and law enforcement authorities.

According to WSJ, tech companies are wary the guidelines may infringe on freedom of expression. Executives told the publication that they have already been “stretched to meet the EU’s existing demands in the area.”

Tech companies have been working with lawmakers in regards to inappropriate content for years. Facebook previously said it wants to be a “hostile place” for terrorists and is using a mix of AI and human intervention to root out terrorist content. YouTube also announced new steps last year including automated systems and additional flaggers to fight extremism on its platform. In 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube signed an EU code of conduct on countering hate speech online.

Under the new recommendations, tech companies and EU member states are required to post regular reports about how terrorism content is being handled within three months, and within six months for other illegal content.


Eh I would be a bit careful with the word demands here. As the commission itself outlines – this is currently merely soft law, a set of standards and recommendations.

On top of that a significant aspect of this is the clearer notice to action procedure which is currently perhaps the biggest problem aspect of similar approaches.

Just to state the obvious: define "terrorist propaganda." When the Kurds talk about how they need their own homeland to avoid being oppressed as a minority in various countries and are willing to commit violent acts to further those ends, is that terrorist propaganda?

I think the point of the rule is the companies should take down the flagged post, assess it and then put it back up of it isn’t a problem. Rather than leave it up while they debate. The consensus among a lot of people who are fighting terrorism seems to be that the terrorist take advantage of that delay to push their message.

Depends on the content. Someone from Basque Country or from Northern Ireland should freely share pro-independence views, but when it comes to supporting ETA or IRA violence, most countries wouldn’t tolerate that.
Same goes with the Kurds. As a Turkish citizen, I am ashamed of the way my country treats our Kurdish minority, and I fully support their equal rights. If I could, I would certainly vote for their party in the last general elections. But when it was apparent that no party was able to build a coalition, PKK guerillas started violence out of nowhere and government answered with even more violence, which quickly polarized most moderate voters. As a result, many moderate liberal Turks stopped supporting the Kurdish party which eventually could not pass the threshold in the second round and left out of the parliament.
Long story short, the radicals among Kurds were afraid that a democratic solution would render their terrorist organization, PKK, obsolete. They sabotaged their own legal party and helped Erdogan’s government keep the power.
I don’t mind if Kurds of Turkey ask for equal rights or even independence, but I wouldn’t support anyone who promote hatred and violence. So, back to your question, I think what you described is just terrorist propaganda. I am having a hard time describing support for an organization that execute teachers, public workers, even families of people who work for the government, as anything but terrorist propaganda.

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