Pressure for tech firms to reduce online hate content


There has been increased pressure recently for social media giants to take more drastic action when it comes to online hate content. Most recently, the pressure has come from the UK government.

Outstanding Prime Minister Theresa May, has called for a shutdown on ‘vile’ terror content to be removed speedily. She has called for big technology firms to reduce its availability to users, asking specifically for such content to be removed within sixty minutes of appearing online.

This presents an ongoing challenge for social media and Internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter and for advertising agencies to monitor interactions with brands and consumers more closely.

May’s calls for censoring content comes ahead of the G20 meeting that will be taking place in Osaka, Japan, which will also be her farewell appearance. One of the aims of her appearance at the summit is to call on social media behemoths such as YouTube and Facebook to have more stringent regulations in place to ensure that hate content is removed at a much faster rate.

What does Theresa May want to change?

One of the things that May intends to talk about at the summit, and hopes to regulate to a much greater extent, is content involving live-streaming.

Specifically, May is calling on tech companies to prevent hateful life-streaming being made so readily available, as seen in the horrific Christchurch terror attack earlier this year, in which a series of mosque attacks in March leftover 51 dead. The shocking attacks were live-streamed on social media by the terrorist.

At the summit, May will also warn internet companies to look at creating technology that can prevent dangerous material being re-uploaded to social media platforms.

She hopes the summit will be an opportunity for the international community to cooperate and stand together against the proliferation of harmful content being spread online.

UN Appeal against hate content

Theresa May’s call for more action against hate content online comes after an appeal at the UN in September 2017, when she demanded that internet behemoths should enforce a two-hour window in which hate content is removed.

At the time, tech firms, such as Microsoft and Google signed an agreement within weeks of this demand stating that they would remove extremist material within this time frame – something that was made public through tech PR.

Britain has shown itself to be one of the global leaders of seeing to a crackdown on harmful content being posted worldwide. To ensure that action is implemented, warnings have been given if tech giants do not comply with removing content.

For example, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy wright, has stated that tech firms could end up facing sanctions if they do not comply with duty of care plans. This may be in the form of significant fines if they fail to remove disturbing material from their platforms.

It could also include other penalties too for tech giants, such as site blocking or implementing director liability. Talking to the NSPCC about these sanctions, Wright said that they “must be significant to influence the actions of the big international companies that so many of these online entities now are.”