EU Ministers Approve Plans to Combat Hate Speech in Social Media Video Content

Social media has a long and complex history with ugly concepts such as hate speech and online abuse. There are some dark depths to the World Wide Web, and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have a knack for shining a light on them. Twitter has long struggled to find an effective method of tackling the spread of such content, while Facebook's algorithm-led approach seems to garner nothing but criticism. Well, it seems the EU has finally had enough, as ministers of the European Union approved on Tuesday proposals which would force social media companies to take a more hands-on approach to combating the presence of such negative themes in video content.

The proposals still need to be agreed on by the European Parliament before becoming official law, but EU lawmakers have been pushing for stricter regulation of such platforms for some time now, so I doubt they'll provide much of a roadblock. If given the final nod, the proposal will require social media companies to take measures to block videos containing hate speech, incitement to hatred, or content justifying terrorism.

The proposals do take into account the value that video content provides to news reports and the like, which many people source through social media platforms, but argue that tougher regulations are needed in regards to the exact content of said videos. One measure includes requiring the establishment of mechanisms which allow users to flag offending content, which many of the larger companies already do, albeit in a not-entirely-effective manner.

“We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way,” said Andrus Ansip, EU Commission Vice-President for the digital single market.

To proposals however only cover videos which are stored in the platform's archives, and do not extend to live-streaming services such as Facebook Live. This is likely due to the fact that authorities frankly seem to have no idea as to how to effectively screen such content. This is somewhat worrying in itself, given the number of high-profile controversies to appear on Facebook Live since its launch.

As part of the plans, member states can also require video-sharing platforms to make financial contributions to the production of European works in the country in which they were established or their target audience resides.

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