Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft have signed up to a code of conduct by the EU that commits to combating online hate speech.
The European Commission said the code includes a pledge by the companies to review all reports of abuse within 24 hours, as well as do more to clamp down on illegal and xenophobic content.
Terror attacks in Belgium were cited as a key reason a clampdown has become more urgent as a means of combating extremism.
Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality, said: “The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech.
“Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racists use to spread violence and hatred.
“This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected.”
Threats of violence also remain a key issue — Labour MP Jess Phillips said she had received around 5,000 abusive messages from Twitter users, many citing rape, after launching a campaign against cyberbullying.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved