Tech companies should take down illegal content in one hour

The European Commission issued today a set of “operational measures” to tackle illegal content online. This also includes terrorist content and hate speech. Tech companies are recommended to follow a “one-hour-rule” to take down terrorist content and to implement faster detection systems, including automated ones. Tools should also be shared with smaller companies. Businesses will have to submit information to the EC about their compliance with this Recommendation within three months.

Luca Schiavoni, Senior Analyst at Assembly comments:

“Today’s Recommendation from the EC is not binding, but certainly has the practical effect of strongly steering these companies’ takedown processes and making them stricter. Pressure has been mounting on these companies to take action against terrorist content and abusive speech, as show by the flurry of activity around the issue of 'fake news' in several countries.

On their side, the main social networks are already taking action, as they have understood they cannot ignore the problem if they want to avoid prescriptive regulation. Twitter and Google are implementing technology to detect bad content and fake accounts, and Facebook is poised to do something similar in the coming months.

The main problems are likely to arise for smaller online platforms, for two reasons: they are less likely to be on the regulators’ radar, and they generally have reduced financial capabilities to invest in the implementation of similar instruments. To this end, it is sensible that the EC has recommended the industry share best practices and technology; and we could see more of what recently came out of the UK government, which invested in a technology solution to detect terrorist content and wants small platforms to adopt it.

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