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TikTok signs up to EU code of conduct on online hate speech

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TikTok say they "believe it's important that internet platforms are held to account on an issue as crucial" as online hate.
TikTok say they "believe it's important that internet platforms are held to account on an issue as crucial" as online hate.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File
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The popular video-sharing app TikTok has joined the EU code of conduct against online hate speech.

"Our ultimate goal is to eliminate hate on TikTok," said Cormac Keenan, head of security and data protection at TikTok, in a statement.

"We recognise that this may seem like an insurmountable challenge (...) but we don't think it should stop us from trying," he added.

"We have never allowed hate on TikTok, and we believe it's important that internet platforms are held to account on an issue as crucial as this.

The move has been welcomed by senior figures within the European Commission, who say the platform has made a "positive step".

"TikTok has demonstrated a firm commitment to tackling illegal hate speech online," said European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.

"The EU needs robust cooperation with such prominent actors to make the digital environment a safe place for all.”

Commission vice-president Vera Jourova also welcomed the move, stressing that "young users are particularly vulnerable to online abuse and illegal hate speech".

TikTok, owned by the Chinese group Bytedance, has previously been criticised for its lack of content moderation and signed up in June to the EU code of practice against online disinformation.

The application has also been the subject of investigations in Europe concerning its use of personal data.

"Of course, I expect TikTok not only to adhere to the principles of the code but also to fully respect EU law when operating on European soil," said Vera Jourova on Twitter.

TikTok is the ninth partner to join the Code of Conduct, which was launched by the European Commission in 2016 alongside Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Google.

In response to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic language online, the EU works alongside civil society organisations and national authorities to monitor how platforms are enforcing rules on online hate speech.

Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Jeuxvideo.com are also signed up to the Code of Conduct.

In the latest evaluation published in June, the European Commission says that results of the Code of Conduct are "overall positive".

Tech companies are assessing 90% of flagged content within 24 hours and removing 71% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech, according to the Commission.

But platforms have been warned to be more transparent to users when tackling online hate speech, and ensure that flagged content is evaluated consistently over time.

Watch Matthew Holroyd's report in #TheCube above.