EU threatens fines on social media companies that do not act on hate speech

EU threatens fines on social media companies that do not act on hate speech
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European regulators are threatening social media sites with legal repercussions if they don’t do more to fight hate speech on their sites.

The European Commission said Thursday that if companies do not “take swift action” to detect and prevent hate speech, it will pass laws allowing the EU to punish them, CNN reported.

Mariya Gabriel, digital economy and society commissioner of the European Commission, said the situation is “not sustainable.” She said that websites like Facebook and Twitter take too long — more than a week — to remove illegal posts.

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Germany took concrete action on social media hate speech in June, passing a law that would impose fines of up to $57 million on websites that do not remove reported hate speech, including racist speech and Nazi symbols, within 24 hours.

Tech companies have been under fire for their handling of racist and violent posts in past months, particularly after Facebook’s hate speech policies were revealed in ProPublica.

In June, the EU hit Google with a $2.8 billion fine for prioritizing its own shopping service in search algorithms. Google announced Wednesday the creation of a separate unit to handle the shopping service.

Facebook and Google are also being asked to testify in congressional hearings about how Russia may have manipulated the 2016 presidential election by using the tech services to purchase ads and take advantage of racial divisions in the U.S.

Representatives of Twitter will testify on Thursday.