MPs accuse Facebook, Google and Twitter of "peddling hate"

Web giants raked over the coals by MPs over their failure to prevent online abuse

MPs have said Google, Facebook and Twitter of have a "terrible reputation" when it comes to removing hate speech and protecting users from abuse online. 

MPs had hauled in representatives from the web giants to be hauled over the coals for failling to address online hate speech. 

Labour MP Chuka Umunna accused YouTube of making advertising money from "videos peddling hate", noting that ISIS supporters were posting videos and tagging them to run ads, meaning both the terrorist supporters and Google made cash from the content. 

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Google's head of public affairs in Europe, Peter Barron, admitted that was true, but said Google was "working very hard" to stop it from happening. 

That led MP David Winnick to compare the companies to prostitutes, adding: "I think that is a good and apt description."

Other politicians took aim at Facebook and Twitter. Labour MP Yvette Cooper said she'd personally reported accounts threatening violent attacks, but the users remained online. Nick Pickles, head of public policy at Twitter, said the accounts would be down by the end of the day, and said his employer was trying to do more to address such concerns a defence Cooper said wasn't "particularly convincing". 

"We understand the challenges that you face and technology changes very fast, but you all have millions of users in the United Kingdom and you make billions of pounds from these users, [yet] you all have a terrible reputation among users for dealing swiftly with content even against your own community standards," she added, according to a BBC News report

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Regarding one specific video reported by Cooper, Barron said he found the content personally offensive, but that it wasn't illegal or against Google's guidelines. "But the important question and this is a question relating to the wider issues of freedom of expression is: is that content illegal and does it break our guidelines?" he said, according to a Sky News report. "And our policy and legal experts arrived at the conclusion that, no, it didn't."

The MPs also criticised social networks for failing to stop banned users from setting up new anonymous accounts to continue their bullying and abuse. Pickles noted that asking users to hand over real names may put them at risk offline, noting that people running accounts in Syria have been murdered for using Twitter to speak up. "I am not going to ask those people to put their real name to that account and those tweets," he said, according to the Daily Mail. "Yes anonymity is a challenge but also that's why we have rules - it doesn't matter whether we have your real name or not."

The Sky News report noted that the government is considering following Germany's lead in fining companies 50 million for not taking down hate speech quickly enough. 

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