Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on the Internet knows that it can often be a very toxic place. While it’s not everyone (or even a majority of Internet users) taking part in the toxicity, people’s passion for certain subjects combined with the anonymous nature of the web means that abuse and hate speech is commonplace (particularly against those who aren’t straight, white or male).
But, just because online hate speech is often witnessed, it doesn’t make it acceptable. Seeking to tackle the topic of online hate speech and make the Internet a little less hateful are Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook who have now pledged their support for the European Commission’s Code of Conduct.
IT Companies to Tackle “Illegal” Hate Speech
In a press release, the European Commission explains that Microsoft, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (the “IT companies”) share a “collective responsibility and pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world. However, the Commission and the IT Companies recognise that the spread of illegal hate speech online not only negatively affects the groups or individuals that it targets, it also negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms.”
As part of their responsibility, the four companies have also announced support for 12, public commitments. These include “[reviewing] the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content,” “[providing] regular training to their staff on current societal developments and to exchange views on the potential for further improvement” and “[educating] and [raising] awareness with their users about the types of content not permitted under their rules and community guidelines.”
While Microsoft, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook aren’t primarily gaming-focused companies, this announcement will surely impact many gamers (and potentially make the web much better for the gaming community at large). This pledge also follows on from the Hearthstone racism controversy that saw Blizzard announce an anti-harassment partnership with Twitch, which can only be good news for the many who have been affected by hate speech.