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Twitter slipped on removing hate speech even before Elon Musk takeover, EU says

Twitter and some of its social media rivals have lagged this year in removing illegal hate messages in Europe, regulators said in a report on Thursday.

Twitter removed 45.4% of hate speech posts it was notified of in a sample this year, up from 49.8% in 2021, European Union officials wrote in their report.

Twitter performed worse on this metric than any other social media platform tested, according to the report, but some of them, including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, also lagged the year. former.

YouTube improved, removing 90.4% of flagged posts, up from 58.8% a year earlier, according to the report.

The data was collected from March to May, months before tech mogul Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion and began to further ease the site’s enforcement around hateful posts.

Musk announced on Thursday that he would relax the enforcement even more, tweeting that he would grant a blanket “amnesty” next week to accounts that Twitter had previously suspended.

Musk’s policies have put Twitter on a potential collision course with the EU, where hate speech lacks the protection from government action it has in the United States under the First Amendment. A new European law, the Digital Services Act, threatens tech companies with billions of dollars in fines if they don’t strictly monitor their platforms.

Didier Reynders, the EU justice commissioner, said the latest data could be used to enforce the new law.

“Last year, I called on businesses to immediately reverse the general trend of declining notice and action. This has yet to fully happen – businesses clearly need to step up their engagement,” Reynders said in a statement.

Twitter, YouTube and Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report, which EU officials released on Thanksgiving, when most US offices are closed.

TikTok said in a statement that EU research is “valuable for sharing knowledge and finding new ways to improve our policies and strengthen our enforcement. We look forward to continued cooperation with the European Commission, NGOs and the other signatories to keep TikTok a safe, positive and inclusive place for creative expression as we tackle the complex and ever-evolving problem of hate speech.”

Racist tweets rose rapidly after Musk completed his purchase of Twitter in late October, outside researchers said.

Musk said he’s focused less on deleting hateful posts and more on limiting how often people view those posts, preventing them from going viral. In a tweet on Wednesday, Musk said those views, or “impressions,” on hate speech were down a third from before he bought the company; outside researchers have not verified this claim.

Twitter’s policies have long prohibited posts that promote “hateful conduct”, and this policy has been still on his site Thursday.

But Musk also laid off or laid off much of Twitter’s workforce during his four weeks as owner and CEO, and the cuts included people whose job it was to monitor content that violated the twitter rules.

CNBC reported Wednesday that tensions are also simmering between Twitter and the companies that run the two biggest app stores, Apple and Google, which have their own rules on content moderation.

EU officials said they worked with 33 civil society organizations and three government agencies to notify tech companies of breaches and monitor takedowns.

This is the seventh such annual report published since 2016.


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