Huge tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others are about to get an equally huge kick in the rear if they don’t clean up the hate speech that has almost completely taken over their respective platforms.
The European Union announced yesterday that these companies just aren’t doing enough to stop the hate speech, so in an attempt to force them to comply, the EU introduced measures that will help to force the tech giants to do whatever it takes to keep EU citizens safe from hate.
In the EU, hate speech, promotion of terroristic acts, and more are illegal, and the European Commission has had enough of these companies getting away with allowing some of it on their platforms. Vera Jourova, Justice commissioner for the EU, said:
“We cannot accept a digital Wild West… If companies don’t deliver, we’ll do it.”
The companies aren’t removing hate speech fast enough, or doing enough to prevent future incidents from the same people or groups. With the companies’ combined tens of billions at their disposal, the EU thinks they should be able to do all of it and more, and much faster.
The EU is actively looking into whether it should require the companies to come up with technology that can stop already flagged as illegal content from being posted again, but some think that this goes too far over the line into censoring free speech.
Probably the biggest change is the way the EU could penalize the companies. Effectively, this is an at-will, voluntary move. But, the EU warned them that if they don’t do something new and fast to stem the tide of hate speech on their sites, they’d have no other choice but to step in and penalize them. And the new measures up the ante on the penalties, too.
And the EU is usually quite tough on tech companies. Anyone remember Microsoft’s Internet Explorer snafu? Or the huge fine levied on Google over its Wi-Fi data collection? Billions in fines and more in lost revenue.
Comply or die. Period. Something that the United States courts wouldn’t ever attempt. Whether they could or not is a different story, but the fact remains that US courts just… Don’t.
But there’s a secret to all of it. To why Google and Facebook and the others have to be coerced into complying. No matter how much these companies might protest, or say it just wouldn’t be feasible to curb hate speech even more than they already do is that the opposite is the case.
They could do it. Easily. Scary easy.
Facebook and Google already employ various forms of artificial intelligence that know the difference between hate speech and regular speech. Facebook specifically already employs it on a limited basis on its platform. But that AI could go much further if Facebook wanted it to. But it doesn’t.
Never forget that you, the person with the account, are the product. The fact is that to curb hate speech, it they’d cut off a revenue stream more important than any other. The ability to bend people’s minds and wallets to their will. Something these companies have been doing for decades now.
Check out this discussion on whether the tech giants are obligated to censor hate speech:
Featured Image Via Pixabay/CC-0.