Moshe Kantor Speaks Out Against Internet Hate Speech
, President of the European Jewish Congress was recently interviewed on Red Herring on the subject of the internet’s role in disseminating hate speech, its ability to police itself and the importance of applying Europe’s 2016 Code of Conduct to all social media outlets. Here is a recap of the interview.
In light of recent incidences of antisemitism on the internet, do you feel that national and international laws should be applied to web-based outlets?
Web giants such as Google have proven to be exceedingly slow in removing extremist content from their sites. In fact, a survey funded by the EU found that of all extremist content reported, only 40% is reviewed by the website within the 24 hour time period proscribed by the EU Code of Conduct. And this is in spite of the fact that the web-based companies voluntarily agreed to adopt the Code.
Web-based media and technology companies must recognize their responsibility to society to protect them from internet content that inspires hate crimes and terrorism. Traditional media is more easily policed by governmental institutions, and there must be some mechanism to apply the same level of rapid response byweb-based outlets.
In your opinion do global technology companies have the institutional capacity to monitor all the content that appears on their sites?
In spite of the enormous amount of content that appears daily, we must keep in mind that the web companies of today are the innovators of high technology. Surely they have the institutional capacity to monitor and respond to extremist material that is posted to their sites.
Further, companies such as Google need to revisit how they define “inappropriate and appropriate” content. For instance, Google states that it does not permit any content that promotes violence, political or religious intolerance, or hatred and further that it does not permit organizations engaged in such activities to advertise on their platform. Yet, one can see extremist and anti-Semitic content on Google, even after it has been reported.
Do you believe that the web has been the primary contributor to the increased hate content that is proliferating around the globe?
I do not believe that social media is the progenitor of the increase in hate speech. The nature of a highly accessible platform, with a capacity for immediate worldwide dissemination has made it easier to express anti-Semitic and extremist points of views.
One of the primary obstacles to an effective internet content policing strategy has been the conflict between protection of free speech and the responsibility to protect societies from content that incites hatred and violence. Web-based media companies, and traditional media outlets as well, have sided with the concept of freedom of expression, feeling that it trumps restricting hateful speech. But there has to be a clear line of distinction between the expression of ideas and speech that is merely hateful. As a society, we must hold digital companies responsible for the hate content that appears on their sites, and we must demand the rapid removal of extremist content from their platforms.
In your opinion, are the states doing their part to legislate policies to address hate speech from online platforms?
With the tremendous escalation of online hate speech, coupled with an increase in violence in communities across Europe, I do believe that our government leaders are waking up to the responsibility they have and are pursuing serious strategies in response.
Do you believe that Digital Single Market, the EU and multinational blocs are effective in dealing with online hate content?
The European Commission developed a Code of Conduct in May of 2016, which was shared with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
. The Commission called on web companies, particularly social media outlets, to immediately implement aggressive strategies for reviewing and removing online hate speech within 24 hours from the time the posting is reported. The Commission also asked all three companies to be transparent about their commitment to the Code. The Code was voluntarily adopted by the three platforms.
Nevertheless, investigations conducted by the media and well as internal investigations reveal that tech companies are not measuring up to their commitment to the European Code of Conduct. We must hold all three to their promises and push for them to immediately implement more effective and timely self-policing strategies. The situation is critical and companies must act now.
- 27 Apr 2017