Fresh trouble is brewing for the American tech giants who were chastised recently by European regulators for privacy violations. On the heels of being slapped heavy fines for non-compliance of the European Union norms, Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG) and Twitter (TWTR) will be brought under the scanner, under a new law that prohibits dissemination of extremist statements on social networking platforms.
This time, regulators are determined to ensure the companies take corrective measures without delay, or on being alerted. One hour – that is the time allowed for removing terror-related comments from websites after being asked to do so by a competent authority. Failure to act within that period would invite fines of up to 4% of global revenues, which matches the rate applied in most of the earlier cases.
This time, regulators are determined to ensure the companies take corrective measures without delay
Six months ago, the authorities had asked social media companies to come up with tangible measures within three months to remove radical comments. Though they claimed to have acted upon the directive, the authorities did not find those actions satisfactory.
Meanwhile, it is the prerogative of each member country to decide on the authorities that can enforce the new law. In his State of the Union speech, European Commission president Jean-Claude Wednesday stressed the need to keep the internet free of terrorist content, considering the vulnerability of the medium to such highly damaging practices.
Except for a comprehensive regulation imposed by Germany last year, actions taken against extremist content mostly involve self-regulation by the respective platforms. It’s been a long time since European regulators were exploring ways to rein in the prevalence of online content with subversive tone.
The new legislation comes after the media platforms, especially YouTube and Facebook, failed to take effective steps to delete objectionable content in a time-bound manner despite being alerted repeatedly. It will require the companies to think beyond the automated detection methods being used by them to purge terror-related posts internally before they appear on the site.
Facebook shares closed the last trading session up 1% but lost as much in the pre-market trading Wednesday. Google’s stock also pared some of its early gains in the premarket and hovered near the $1175-mark. Twitter shares dropped about 1% before the market opened, reversing Tuesday’s gains.