The European Union says Twitter fell behind in removing hate speech even before Elon Musk took control

Regulators there said in a report Thursday that Twitter and some of its social media rivals have fallen behind this year in removing illegal hate posts in Europe.

EU officials wrote in their report that Twitter removed 45.4% of flagged hate speech posts in this year’s sample, down from 49.8% in 2021.

According to the report, Twitter performed worse on this metric than any other social media platform tested, but some including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok also lagged compared to a year earlier.

YouTube has improved, the report said, removing 90.4% of reported posts, up from 58.8% a year earlier.

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

Musk announced Thursday that he would ease enforcement further, tweeting that he would grant a general “pardon” next week to accounts previously suspended by Twitter.

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

Didier Reynders, the EU’s justice commissioner, said the latest data could be used in applying the new law.

“Last year, I called on companies to reverse the general downward trend of notice and act without delay. This is not yet fully done — companies must clearly increase their compliance,” 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 was released by EU officials on Thanksgiving, when most US offices are closed.

TikTok said in a statement that the EU’s research is “valuable for sharing knowledge and finding new ways we can improve our policies and strengthen our enforcement. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the European Commission, NGOs and other signatories to keep TikTok a safe, positive and inclusive place for creative expression as we tackle the complex and evolving issue.” persistent hate speech.

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

Musk said he’s focused less on removing hateful posts and more on limiting how often people see such posts — which keeps them from spreading. In a tweet on Wednesday, Musk said that such views, or “impressions,” of hate speech are down a third from what they were before he bought the company; External researchers have not verified this claim.

Twitter’s rulebook has long prohibited posts that promote “hateful behaviour,” and that policy was as well It’s still on their website Thursday.

But Musk also laid off or fired a large percentage 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 Twitter’s rules.

CNBC reported on Wednesday that tensions are also running high between Twitter and the companies that operate 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 public bodies to notify tech companies of breaches and monitor takedowns.

It is the seventh such annual report they have issued since 2016.


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