Facebook, Twitter and YouTube commit to crack down on ‘hate speech’ within 24 hours in Europe

Major social media sites have signed up to European regulations requiring “hate speech” to be dealt with within 24 hours.

The regulations have been signed up to by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft.

Hate speech on any of those platforms should be reviewed and removed, if deemed necessary, within 24 hours.

The new “code of conduct” which was announced earlier this week by the European Commission, hopes to target hate speech, as well as terrorist propaganda.

Companies are also meant to, under the new guidelines, promote “independent counter-narratives” to tackle hate speech and extremist propaganda.

The rules were introduced following terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris and amid the refugee crisis across the EU which has sparked the prominence of far-right groups in some countries and racial tensions.

Germany had previously cracked down on social media sites which did not remove hate speech promptly, and Facebook, Twitter and Google had been working with the German government to already commit to remove the hate speech within 24 hours.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” said Vĕra Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality.

“Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and to spread violence and hatred.”

The new rules have been criticised already, with some saying that the private companies should not be responsible for policing hate speech, and that it should be done by law enforcement officials.

The four companies have also faced suggestions that the new rules would hamper free speech, but they all said they remain committed to allowing the free flow of information.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is among politicians to have condemned some of the ‘shocking’ homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse sent to PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen for reading a gay-friendly book to his nieces.

Mr Cohen had read the children’s book King & King – which tells the story of a prince who finds a same-sex partner – to his nieces Isabelle and Amelie, aged 3 and 1.

After sharing a picture on Twitter, the CEO – who previously ran a Jewish media business –attracted a barrage of hateful threats and anti-Semitic abuse, branding him a “paedophile” and a “child abuser”.