EU Code of Conduct against online hate speech: latest evaluation shows slowdown in progress

The European Commission has released the results of its seventh evaluation of the Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online.

This year's results unfortunately show a decrease in companies' notice-and-action results: the number of notifications reviewed by the companies within 24 hours dropped as compared to the last two monitoring exercises, from 90.4% in 2020, to 81% in 2021, and 64.4% in 2022. TikTok is the only company that improved its time of assessment. The removal rate, at 63.6%, is also considerably lower than at its peak in 2020 (71%). Only YouTube performed better on this parameter than in the last two years.

There is, however, a positive development on the companies' frequency and quality of feedback to users, something which the Commission had been calling on companies to improve in the 2021 report.

The seventh evaluation shows that:

  • Companies reviewed 64.4% of notifications within 24 hours, which shows a decrease as compared to the last two monitoring exercises (81% in 2021 and 90.4% in 2020). Only TikTok has increased its performance (from 82.5% in 2021 to 91.7% in 2022).
  • The removal rate was 63.6%, similar to 2021 (62.5%), but still lower than in 2020 (71%). YouTube improved its removal rate in 2022 (90.4%), as compared to 2021 (58.8%). All the other IT companies removed less content than in 2021, in some cases with minor variations (Facebook removed 69.1% in 2022 and 70.2% in 2021; Twitter removed 45.4% and 49.8%, respectively).
  • On average, 69.6% of content calling for murder or violence against specific groups was removed, while content using defamatory words or pictures to name certain groups was removed in 59.3% of the cases; showing a better response rate on the most serious manifestations of online hatred.
  • IT companies' feedback to users improved in 2022 with respect to 2021. Many companies have done better, in particular TikTok (74.8% of notifications addressed, compared to 28.7% in 2021) and Instagram (72.6%, compared to 41.9% in 2021 and 62.4% in 2020).

To support the implementation of the Code of Conduct and address the gaps in notice-and-action, the IT companies and the network of trusted flagger organisations involved in the monitoring exercises have now agreed on an action framework. It lays down cooperation initiatives between the parties, where they commit to strengthening their dialogue to counter hate speech online.

The Commission will continue monitoring the implementation of the Code of Conduct. The Commission will support IT companies and trusted flagger organisations in the implementation of the action framework agreed in the context of the Code of Conduct. The Digital Services Act (DSA) entered into force on 16 November. The Act provides comprehensive rules for platforms' responsibilities and it will also further support co-regulatory frameworks. The Commission will discuss with the IT companies how to ensure that the implementation of the Code supports compliance with the DSA and adds value in the specific areas of tackling hate speech and protecting freedom of expression online. This process may lead to a revision of the Code of Conduct in the course of 2023.

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EU Commission

European Commission press service, Brussels.

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