According to new research by the EU, US tech firms only manage to remove less than half of all confirmed reports of hate speech within one day.

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The news comes as the European Commission decided to investigate whether the tech giant companies were delivering on the promise they made in May to remove all instances of hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported.

Only 40% of reports of hate speech are currently being removed within a day.

“The last weeks and months have shown that social media companies need to live up to their important role and take up their share of responsibility when it comes to phenomena like online radicalisation, illegal hate speech or fake news,” said Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement.

The tech firms were originally strong armed by a German brokered European Commission “code of conduct” as the only other alternative on the table was a road that would have involved the companies contending with new EU legislation and laws on the.

In the aftermath of the EU investigation, Jourova went onto say that the Commission may be forced to enact laws after all, as only 40 percent of posts are being removed within the time frame. “If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months.” 

When the US tech companies originally signed up to the pledge, they were virtually unanimous in their opinion that cleaning up on-line hate speech was a challenge, and that striking the balance between the right to free speech and free expression was a challenge. The response from the companies following the investigation has been muted to say the least. Perhaps they are exercising their less known right to not express an opinion.

The EU’s investigation relied on data and analysis by supplied by 12 non-governmental organizations spread across nine European countries.

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