Ref. Ares(2019)3109073 - 10/05/2019
European Commission - Statement
Removing illegal content online: Commission calls for more efforts and faster
progress from all sides
Brussels, 8 January 2018
Five Commissioners will meet tomorrow in Brussels with representatives of online platforms to discuss
progress made in tackling the spread of illegal content online, including online terrorist propaganda and
xenophobic, racist or hate speech as well as breaches of intellectual property rights.
The meeting will be a good opportunity for a frank and open exchange about progress made and
lessons learned. Vice-President Andrus Ansip
, Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos
, Věra Jourová
, Julian King
and Mariya Gabriel
said ahead of the meeting:
"Terrorist propaganda and content that incites violence and hatred online is a serious threat to
security, safety and fundamental rights. It demands a collective response – from all actors, including
the internet industry.
In recent years, online platforms have significantly increased the resources they devote to removing
violent and extremist content as soon as possible, including through automated removal.
This is starting to achieve results. However, even if tens of thousands of pieces of illegal content have
been taken down, there are still hundreds of thousands more out there. And removal needs to be
speedy: the longer illegal material stays online, the greater its reach, the more it can spread and grow.
Building on the current voluntary approach, more efforts and progress have to be made.
The Commission is counting on online platforms to step up and speed up their efforts to tackle these
threats quickly and comprehensively, including closer cooperation with national and enforcement
authorities, increased sharing of know-how between online players and further action against the
reappearance of illegal content.
We will continue to promote cooperation with social media companies to detect and remove terrorist
and other illegal content online, and if necessary, propose legislation to complement the existing
While online platforms play a key role in innovation and growth in the digital economy, they also carry
a significant societal responsibility in terms of protecting users and society at large – and in particular
in preventing criminals, terrorists and other persons involved in infringing activities online from
exploiting their services.
The EU Internet Forum was launched in December 2015
by the European Commission. It brings
together EU Home Affairs Ministers, the internet industry and other stakeholders to work together in a
voluntary partnership to address this complex issue and to protect EU citizens.
In December 2016, at the EU Internet Forum, internet companies announced the creation of a shared
'Database of Hashes' to better detect potential terrorist content on social media and prevent its
reappearance on other platforms. Major platforms are increasingly developing automatic tools for
detection and removal of terrorist content online. In December 2017
the third Ministerial meeting of
the EU Internet Forum pushed for automatic detection of terrorist propaganda
In May 2016
, the European Commission and four major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube and Microsoft) announced a Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech.
An evaluation carried out by NGOs and public bodies in 24 Member States, released in June 2017,
showed that the companies have made significant progress in following up on their commitments. On
average, in 59% of the cases, the IT companies responded to notifications concerning illegal hate
speech by removing the content. This is more than twice the level that was recorded six months
earlier. The next evaluation is due to be published in the coming weeks.
In June 2017
, the European Council further called on the industry to develop new technology and tools
to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites to terrorist acts, to be
complemented by the relevant legislative measures at EU level, if necessary.
Following up on this call, the Commission set out in September 2017
guidelines and principles for
online platforms to increase the proactive prevention, detection and removal of illegal content online.
In October 2017
the Commission adopted its Work Programme for 2018 committing to continue to
promote cooperation with social media companies to detect and remove terrorist and other illegal
For More Information
“Tackling illegal content online – towards an enhanced responsibility of online