On March 1, The European Commission — the unelected executive branch of the European Union — told social media companies to remove illegal online terrorist content within an hour, or risk facing EU-wide legislation on the topic. The ultimatum was part of a new set of recommendations that will apply to all forms of “illegal content” online, “from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement.”
The European Commission said, “Considering that terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours of its appearance online, all companies should remove such content within one hour from its referral as a general rule”.
While the one-hour ultimatum is ostensibly only about terrorist content, this is how the European Commission motivated the new recommendations:
“The Juncker Commission made security a top priority from day one. It is the most basic and universal of rights to feel safe in your own home or when walking down the street. Europeans rightly expect their Union to provide that security for them – online and offline. The Commission has taken a number of actions to protect Europeans online – be it from terrorist content, illegal hate speech or fake news… we are continuously looking into ways we can improve our fight against illegal content online. Illegal content means any information which is not in compliance with Union law or the law of a Member State, such as content inciting people to terrorism, racist or xenophobic, illegal hate speech, child sexual exploitation… What is illegal offline is also illegal online”.