Twitter will take longer to censor hateful content and remove less content in 2022 than it did the previous year, according to data released by the European Union on Thursday.
The figures released by the EU are part of an annual assessment of online platforms’ compliance with the 27-nation bloc’s disinformation code of conduct.
Twitter isn’t alone — most of the other tech companies that signed up to the voluntary code also scored worse. But the numbers could herald Twitter’s troubles complying with the European Union’s tough new online rules, as owner Elon Musk fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time employees and countless contractors responsible for content moderation and other critical tasks. business.
The EU report, conducted over six weeks in the spring, found that Twitter assessed slightly more than half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within a 24-hour period, down from 82% in 2021.
By comparison, the amount of flagged material reviewed within 24 hours dropped to 64 percent for Facebook, 56.9 percent for Instagram, and 83.3 percent for YouTube. With a score of 92%, TikTok is the only company improving.
The amount of hate speech that Twitter removes after being reported slipped to 45.4 percent from 49.8 percent a year ago. TikTok’s takedown rate fell by a quarter to 60%, while Facebook and Instagram’s takedown rates fell only slightly. Only YouTube’s takedown rate rose, skyrocketing to 90%.
“Worrying to see a downward trend in the censorship of notifications related to illegal hate speech on social media platforms,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova tweeted. “Online hate speech is a scourge of the digital age and platforms need to live up to their promises.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Emails to several employees of the company’s European communications team bounced back as undeliverable.
Musk’s purchase of Twitter last month sparked widespread concern that purveyors of lies and misinformation would be allowed to thrive on the site. The billionaire Tesla CEO has often said he thinks Twitter has become too restrictive, and he has been reinstating suspended accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump.
Twitter will face more scrutiny in Europe by the middle of next year, when new EU rules designed to keep internet users safe online begin to apply to the largest online platform. Violations can result in hefty fines of up to 6% of a company’s annual global revenue.
France’s online watchdog, Arcom, said it had received a response from Twitter after writing to the company earlier this week expressing concern that employee departures would affect Twitter’s “ability to maintain a safe environment for its users.”
Arcom also asked the company to confirm that it can meet its “legal obligations” to combat online hate speech and commit to enforcing new EU online rules. Arcom said it had received Twitter’s response and would “study their response,” but gave no further details.
Tech companies that have signed up to the EU’s disinformation code agree to take steps aimed at reducing disinformation and regularly report whether they are living up to their commitments, though with little penalty.