Early this month, TikTok – a video-sharing social networking platform – signed up to the EU Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online, becoming the ninth IT company to join the Code. This means the Code now covers over 90% of the EU market share of online platforms that maybe affected by hateful content.
Welcoming this decision, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said: “By signing up to our Code of Conduct, TikTok has demonstrated a firm commitment to tackling illegal hate speech online. The EU needs robust cooperation with such prominent actors to make the digital environment a safe place for all.”
The European Commission launched the Code of Conduct in May 2016 together with four major IT companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube) to respond to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic hate speech online.
The aim of the Code is to make sure requests to remove content are dealt quickly. When companies receive a request to remove content deemed to be illegal from their online platform, they assess this request against their rules and community guidelines and, where necessary, national laws transposing EU law on combatting racism and xenophobia. The companies have committed to reviewing the majority of these requests in less than 24 hours and to removing the content if necessary, while respecting the fundamental principle of freedom of speech.
In the course of 2018, Instagram, Snapchat and Dailymotion joined the Code of Conduct. Jeuxvideo.com joined in January 2019.
The last evaluation shows that on average the companies are now assessing 90% of flagged content within 24 hours and 71% of the content deemed illegal hate speech is removed.
The Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online is a voluntary commitment made by the IT companies that have signed up to it. It is not a legal document and does not give governments the right to take down content. The Code cannot be used to make these IT companies take down content that does not count as illegal hate speech, or any type of speech that is protected by the right to freedom of expression set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.