Regarding hate speech, and specifically hate speech online, the European Commission works with the aim of ensuring that the Internet remains a free, safe and tolerant space where EU laws are enforced, in full respect of the right to freedom of expression. In particular, steps have been taken to counter the proliferation of illegal hate speech online, as defined by national laws implementing the EU’s Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia.
An initiative in this area is the ‘Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online,’ presented together with Facebook, Microsoft, Google (YouTube) and Twitter in May 2016. The Code’s main objective is to ensure that ‘illegal hate speech’ is expeditiously assessed and, where necessary, removed. The impact of the Code of Conduct has been regularly monitored. Two and a half years after adoption of the Code, evaluations show that IT companies respond to notices within 24 hours in the majority of cases and remove, on average, 72% of content notified to them, compared to 59% in 2017 and only 28% in 2016. Since 2018, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat and others have announced their intention to join the Code of Conduct, which now covers approximately 86% of the EU market share of social media platforms. Moreover, the EU has created two coordinators for anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, who work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure that EU policy-making reflects the concerns of these communities.