MPs Condemn Social Media Giants Over Online Hate Speech


MPs are condemning social media giants – Twitter, Facebook, and Google— over their incompetency in handling online hate speech. One Labour MP even accused the three giants of “commercial prostitution” at the Home Affairs committee.

Yvette Cooper, the chair of the Home Affairs Committee, demonstrated to social media executives exactly how easy it is to search for hate speech on their platforms. In one such instance, she presented Google links to three YouTube Videos featuring neo-Nazis and white supremacist such as KKK's David Duke as well as the banned British organization, National Action.

One of the main concerns for the MPs is not only the ease with which someone could find hate speech online—but the fact that online advertising revenue could be used to fund extremist groups such ISIS and Neo-Nazi organisations.

Though Twitter, Facebook, and Google do in fact monitor their sites, the massive size of the social media platforms makes it difficult, if not impossible, to proactively search online hate speech. Because of this, the three social media giants heavily rely on their users to report inappropriate and discriminatory online content.

To further exemplify how lax these social media platforms are to removing inappropriate content, Cooper presented four tweets that threatened physical harm to public figures such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Angela Merkel—threats that Cooper herself had reported to Twitter. Yet, these threatening tweets still remained online 24 hours later. Twitter also failed to suspend some accounts that were notified as not being in accordance with community guidelines.

Nick Pickles, Twitter head of public policy for the UK, would not give the committee a figure on the number of staff it uses to monitor online content. However, he told the MPs that Twitter not to long ago rolled out new technology to help identify accounts who violate community guidelines.

In regards to the Youtube Videos — Peter Barron, Google Europe’s VP for communications and affairs, informed the committee that of the four videos, only two had been removed and another one did not qualify as hate speech.

Simon Milner, EMEA policy director at Facebook, also informed the committee that four offensive Facebook pages—one such entitled “Ban Islam”— were not taken down because they did not technically violate community guidelines. He argued that the page criticized Islam but it does not direct people to directly attack Muslims. However, Milner was adamant that Facebook does an efficient job at monitoring inappropriate content— “To suggest we are in some way negligent or not caring about this issue is simply not true.”

However, the committee session did not end well, with MPs left largely unsatisfied with the social media executive’s responses. Veteran Labour MP, David Winnick very boldly accused the three giants of “commercial prostitution” when an executive explained that Holocaust denial tweets were not in violation of community guidelines.

Original Source:

Teshura Adams-El