EU issues ultimatum on hate speech

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The European Union on Thursday gave an ultimatum to social media companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, to remove hate speech from their platforms.

The European Commission, the agency which implements the EU’s decisions, has issued guidelines for the companies to speed up the removal of unlawful content. The commission also said that the EU will impose penalties on firms that fail to act.

“The increasing availability and spreading of terrorist material and content that incites violence and hatred online is a serious threat to the security and safety of EU citizens,” the European Commission said in a statement. “Given their increasingly important role in providing access to information, the commission expects online platforms to take swift action over the coming months, in particular in the area of terrorism and illegal hate speech.”

According to the organisation’s guidelines, the social media companies will have to appoint points of contact who can be immediately alerted about violent or racist content. The companies have been asked to work with experts who could work to flag such content.

The commission’s guidelines also asked the social media firms to remove illegal content as quickly as possible and implement automatic tools to prevent any previously removed content from being uploaded again.