An European Union commissioner admitted on Thursday to cancelling her account on Facebook because it was a “highway for hatred”, as the bloc warned US internet giants to tackle online abuse or risk regulation.
Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Affairs, said she had revealed her decision to staff during a meeting to discuss a new code of conduct for dealing with hate speech.
“When we started discussing the future code of conduct, I first met Facebook managers here and I told them I had just cancelled my Facebook account because it was the highway for hatred, and I am not willing to support it,” she told a news conference in Brussels.
Jourova is the Czech Republic’s representative on the European Commission, the executive and regulatory arm of the 28-nation EU.
Google’s YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook signed up to the code of conduct in May 2016, promising to look at suspicious content within 24 hours and remove illegal material.
But the European Commission said further work was needed and proposed new ways for the firms to more quickly remove hate speech and incitement to terrorism.
If they fail to comply, the EU could introduce legislation to curb it as early as next year, Jourova said.
Hate speech “can lead to concrete violence against concrete people in real life and we must not tolerate it,” Jourova said.
She said executives she met last week during a visit to California’s Silicon Valley all recognised the need for action to curb hate speech.
EU officials have reacted with growing alarm at the so-called Islamic State’s use of social media to recruit people willing to carry out a growing wave of attacks in Europe.