Gee. What could possibly go wrong?

Vera Jourova, head of the European Commission’s Committee for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality announced Tuesday that internet behemoths have joined forces to combat “hate speech” in Europe.

Before we get too deep into the weeds with the details of this new, brave, Code of Conduct, it’s worth remembering that all participating entities are public companies entitled to set user platform rules as they see fit, to either their benefit or detriment contingent upon the response of the free market. That said, they also control an inordinate amount of news consumption and dissemination so this is pretty damn concerning. Mind you, the following applies to “hate speech” in Europe, no mention of the U.S.

In any case, the EU Commission writes that the goal of this new internet Code of Conduct is to, “combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.” Illegal hate speech?

The IT Companies support the European Commission and EU Member States in the effort to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally. They share, together with other platforms and social media companies, a collective responsibility and pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world. However, the Commission and the IT Companies recognise that the spread of illegal hate speech online not only negatively affects the groups or individuals that it targets, it also negatively impacts those who speak out for freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination in our open societies and has a chilling effect on the democratic discourse on online platforms.

In order to prevent the spread of illegal hate speech, it is essential to ensure that relevant national laws transposing the Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as the in the offline environment. While the effective application of provisions criminalising hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, this work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring that illegal hate speech online is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame. To be considered valid in this respect, a notification should not be insufficiently precise or inadequately substantiated.

The Code of Conduct is as nannyish, bureaucratic, and ineffective as you’d imagine. Staff have to be trained, member states have to be involved, no one can wipe their own butt without getting permission to do so, the usual stuff.

The two biggest changes include a 24-hour requirement to check “flagged” content and here’s where it gets really fun — create counter-narratives if necessary. “Recognising the value of independent counter speech against hateful rhetoric and prejudice, aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking,” the Code of Conduct mandates.

So not only will Twitter and Google and all the others be stamping out “hate speech” (though that’s not clearly defined), but they’ll be working as propaganda agents. That Twitter has cozied up with Russia is of no concern though, apparently. I’m sure they’ll be able to put that allegiance aside and work in the best interest of non-Russian interests because a piece of paper says so.

Facebook was recently busted in the U.S. for allegedly intentionally manipulating their trending news segment to omit right-leaning news stories and sources.

But I’m sure this new Code of Conduct, along with Europe’s current migrant crisis, terrorism troubles, and cultural collapse isn’t a recipe for disaster. Not in the least…

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