HomeInsightsEuropean Commission publishes results of its fifth evaluation of the 2016 Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online


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The Commission says that the results are “overall positive”, with IT companies assessing 90% of flagged content within 24 hours and removing 71% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech. However, the Commission says that “platforms need to further improve transparency and feedback to users”. They also have to ensure that flagged content is evaluated consistently over time, as separate and comparable evaluations carried out over different time periods showed divergences in performance.

Key points from the evaluation:

  • 90% of flagged content was assessed by the platforms within 24 hours, whereas it was only 40% of contents in 2016;
  • 71% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech was removed in 2020, whereas only 28% of content was removed in 2016;
  • the average removal rate, similar to the one recorded in previous evaluations, shows that platforms continue to respect freedom of expression and avoid removing content that may not qualify as illegal hate speech;
  • platforms responded and gave feedback to 67.1% of the notifications received, which is higher than in the previous monitoring exercise (65.4%). However, only Facebook informed users systematically; the other platforms need to make improvements;

The Commission says that the results of the evaluation will feed into the “ongoing reflections” on how to strengthen measures addressing illegal content online in the future Digital Services Act package, on which the Commission recently launched a public consultation.

The Commission will consider ways to prompt all platforms dealing with illegal hate speech to set up effective notice-and-action systems. In addition, the Commission says that it will continue in 2020 and 2021 to “facilitate the dialogue between IT companies and civil society organisations” to tackle illegal hate speech, in particular, by fostering engagement with content moderation teams and working towards mutual understanding on the local legal specificities of hate speech. To read the Commission’s news release in full and for a link to the results of the evaluation exercise, click here.