The European Commission, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube have announced what they describe as a "code of conduct" to address online hate speech.
The EC said the four companies "support the EC and EU member states in the effort to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal hate speech to spread virally".
A "collective responsibility" shared by the major tech companies is also identified, as well as a "pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world".
The EC hopes that having tech companies sign the code of conduct will help the companies commit to continuing their efforts to tackle illegal hate speech online.
The release added: "This will include the continued development of internal procedures and staff training to guarantee that they review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary."
It is also hoped that tech companies will "endeavour to strengthen their ongoing partnerships with civil society organisations who will help flag content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct. The IT companies and the EC also aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives, and supporting educational programmes that encourage critical thinking."
The release goes on to list specific public commitments, including a promise to "review notifications regarding illegal hate speech" on tech companies' own services, to generally raise awareness of what is and isn't acceptable when using a service, staff training on "societal developments" that may lead to certain kinds of hate speech, and to "intensify cooperation between themselves and other platforms and social media companies" to enhance best practice sharing.
Twitter, in particular, must be happy to sign this agreement. The social media platform is steadily tumbling in popularity as users tire of trolling, hate speech and so-called ‘echo chamber' politics.
World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee criticised Twitter earlier this year for its "negativity and bullying", suggesting that the site is built in a way that promotes this behaviour instead of "constructive criticism and harmony".
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