Twitter and some of its competitors on social media fell behind this year in removing hateful posts that are illegal in Europe, regulators there said in a report on Thursday.
Twitter removed 45.4% of hate speech posts it was informed about in a sample this year, up from 49.8% in 2021, representatives of the European Union wrote in their report.
Twitter scored worse than any other social media platform tested on this metric, but some of them, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, also fell behind compared to the previous year.
YouTube improved and removed 90.4% of reported posts, up from 58.8% a year earlier, the report said.
The data was collected from March to May, months before tech magnate Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion and began easing the site’s enforcement even further with regard to hateful posts.
Musk announced on Thursday that he would ease enforcement even further and tweeted that he would grant a general “amnesty” next week for accounts that Twitter has previously suspended.
Musk’s policies have set Twitter on a potential collision course with the EU, where hate speech does not provide the protection against government action they have in the United States under the First Amendment. A new EU law, the Digital Services Act, threatens tech companies with billions of dollars in fines if they don’t strictly monitor their platforms.
Didier Reynders, the EU Commissioner for Justice, said the latest data could be used when applying the new law.
“Over the past year, I urged companies to immediately reverse the overall downward trend of attention and action. This hasn’t fully happened yet — companies need to significantly increase their engagement,” Reynders said in a statement.
Twitter, YouTube and Meta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report, which EU officials released on Thanksgiving, when most US offices are closed.
TikTok said in a statement that EU’s research is “valuable for sharing knowledge and finding new ways we can improve our policies and strengthen our enforcement. We look forward to continuing our work with the European Commission, NGOs, and other signatories to make TikTok a safe, positive and inclusive place for creative expression as we address the complex and ever-evolving issue of hate speech.”
Racist tweets quickly increased after Musk completed his purchase of Twitter at the end of October, external researchers said.
Musk said he’s focused less on removing hateful posts and more on limiting how often people view such posts to prevent them from going viral. In a tweet on Wednesday, Musk said such views, or “impressions,” of hate speech fell by a third compared to the company’s purchase; external researchers have not confirmed this claim.
Twitter’s rules have long banned posts that promote “hateful behavior,” and that policy was still on its website on Thursday.
But Musk also laid off or laid off a large portion of Twitter’s workforce in his four weeks as owner and CEO, and the cuts included people whose job it was to search for content that violated Twitter’s rules.
CNBC reported on Wednesday that tensions are also brewing between Twitter and the companies that run the two biggest app stores, Apple and Google, which have their own rules for moderating content.
EU officials said they worked with 33 civil society organisations and three public agencies to inform tech companies of breaches and monitor takedowns.