In Europe, outside the protections of the First Amendment, American tech giants Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others reached an agreement with the Europe Union on Tuesday to crack down on online speech that some, including activist groups, identify as “hate speech.”
The Associated Press said the newly approved “code of conduct” will have the tech companies “quickly” remove “illegal hate speech directed against anyone over issues of race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”
The companies agreed “to strengthen their partnerships with civil society organizations [that] often flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct,” the report said.
Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner responsible for justice, consumers and gender equality, said in the report, “The Internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech.”
Bloomberg’s Stephanie Bodoni said the agreement also includes Google and Microsoft.
“Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Terror organizations such as ISIS have has used the Web and social media to spread their message, the report said.
The companies admitted it would be a “challenge” to balance freedom of expression and “hate speech.”
Reported Bloomberg: “A French Jewish youth group, UEJF, sued Twitter, Facebook and Google in Paris this month over how they monitor hate speech on the Web. In the course of about six weeks in April and May, members of French anti-discrimination groups flagged unambiguous hate speech that they said promoted racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism. More than 90 percent of the posts pointed out to Twitter and YouTube remained online within 15 days on average following requests for removal, according to the study by UEJF, SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie.”
The AP, which noted Facebook has 1.6 million users, said the company was telling customers to use online reporting tools to monitor speech.
Meanwhile, Fortune said that as Facebook has focused on becoming a platform for video, publishers who don’t work in the medium are becoming less and less involved.
The report cited a study from NewsWhip that said there’s been a “noticeable decline” in engagement with Facebook.
The results follow by only days a scandal in which Facebook was accused of suppressing stories with a conservative viewpoint. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg held a meeting with conservative leaders over the issue.
The NewsWhip study said it looked at “likes,” comments and sharing of linked articles “from the top 10 publishers on Facebook over the past year.”
“Over the past nine months, NewsWhip says, the research shows a fairly sharp decline in engagement of all kinds: Likes, the most dominant form of interaction, dropped by about 55 percent between July of last year and April of 2016. And sharing activity also declined sharply: Shares fell by 57 percent and comments by almost 64 percent.”
The report said it “seems obvious that engagement for non-video content is declining. But why? It could be that Facebook is deliberately pushing that kind of article down in people’s feeds.”
WND reported two years ago that there were calls developing to censor speech online.
And the same SPLC has blasted the Drudge Report for covering “black crime,” charging that the immensely popular Internet news aggregator “has been rife with what the online publisher calls ‘scary black people’ stories.”
That was when two Democrat lawmakers wanted to have Barack Obama’s Justice Department submit a report for action against any Internet sites, broadcast, cable television or radio shows determined to be advocating or encouraging “violent acts.”
That’s from the text of the bill from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 would have created ” an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes,” stated a news release from Markey’s office.
SPLC was later linked to domestic terror when it was cited as a source of information for a man who attacked the Washington offices of Family Research Council and admitted he wanted to kill as many as possible.
The issue was that SPLC identified FRC as a “hate” group while it simply follows the biblical view of marriage and family.
Several years earlier, a Canadian administrative judge’s demand for a $5,000 penalty and a written apology from a man who criticized homosexuality in a letter to his local newspaper was overturned on appeal, because the law exempts “the free expression of opinion on any subject” and only applies to actions.
That’s been the legal standard in the United States as well, although there have been attempts to apply it to speech.
A spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom explained the U.S. First Amendment and the Canadian Charter of Rights were designed to protect unwanted speech.
“Speech everyone wants to hear doesn’t need protection. It’s the only reason the First Amendment was written, to protect unwanted or hurtful expressions,” the spokesman said at the time. “That’s what separates us from the totalitarian societies behind the old Iron Curtain.”
Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act early in his presidency, which cracks down on any acts that could be linked to criticism of homosexuality or even the “perception” of homosexuality.
As Congress debated it, there were assurances it would not be used to crack down on speech.
But days after Obama signed it, pastors and other Christian leaders gathered to read from the Bible at a rally organized with the help of Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Coalition.
“If this law is used to silence me or any of these preachers for speaking the truth, then we will be forced to conscientiously defy it,” declared Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America. “That is my calling as a Christian and my right as an American citizen.”
The bill signed by Obama was opposed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which called it a “menace” to civil liberties. The commission argued the law allows federal authorities to bring charges against individuals even if they’ve already been cleared in a state court.