No Pressure for Social Media Companies to Uphold Guidelines
The Home Affairs Select Committee have published a report today strongly criticizing Facebook, Google, YouTube and others for doing “nowhere near enough” in tackling widespread illegal and dangerous content.
Most shockingly, the report illustrates that there is no real incentive for companies to take prompt action in removing content, even if these are being reported by prominent members of the public. The Committee believes that their continued failure in addressing the problem urgently requires the Government to take concrete steps ranging from reviewing existing law, to implementing a “system of fines and penalties”.
Our co-director, Dr. Murtaza Shaikh, was invited by Home Affairs Committee to give evidence on 13 Dec 2016 and explained that most companies do not have a “robust policy on hate speech”, and willing to get their hands dirty only if it interferes with “harm or threats of violence”.
Dr Shaikh illustrated that there needs to be a review in existing legislation on hate speech; yet, this needs to be proportional as to allow free speech and criticism of ideologies, but not to the point where it leads to the persecution of persons based on their associations. So far, Facebook’s guidelines are more specific in making this distinction, where instances such as, “Muslims this and Muslims that. Effing Muslims” would not be tolerated but posts critiquing the religion in general would be allowed. Dr Shaikh suggested future talks on regulation must strike this balance.
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