The social media company, Twitter, has released new data stating that it is tackling Online Abuse on its site. While welcome, having investigated the matter, some issues do need to be asked; first of all, what are the facts? Secondly, what has led to where we are now? Thirdly, have they and other companies done enough? And finally, what now going forwards?

The facts

As stated on the Fortune website, Twitter has said that it is "taking action" against ten times more abusive accounts than at the same point last year. What this essentially means is that the company is "levying account suspensions, or limiting users' ability to use the service" on "thousands more abusive accounts" per day.

The Social media giant also announced that in the past four months it has removed "twice as many repeat offenders." Furthermore, there are statistics to back up what has been said. Fortune reported that the Twitter Company had stated that it has seen a 25 per cent "dip in abuse" and that 65 per cent of users who were previously disciplined, did not repeat their abusive actions.

Looking back

Moving on from this, the next question to ask is, what has led to where we are now? In short, social media sites have been under immense pressure to act on abuse that was posted onto their sites. This is because they have been criticised for being too slow in removing hate crimes online. There are a couple of examples.

In June of last year, despite agreeing to remove abuse on its site, Facebook refused to "delete a page" attacking Donald Trump that had been online for around two months, as stated on the Info Wars website. Furthermore, Huffington Post stated that the Community Safety Trust, a group set up to protect Jewish people in England reported that "anti-Semitic hate-crime" had "soared by a third" to reach record levels last year.

It is as a result of this that action was taken from some different sources. The European Commission stated that it would "force technology giants" to be "tough on hate speech" according to the Telegraph newspaper. It is positive that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google voluntarily signed up to anti-hate speech code of conduct.

What this meant was that these companies agreed, within 24 hours of being published, to act on hateful posts that were put onto their site. Furthermore, as was the case with Twitter, further action has been taken. In January, the website Recode reported that the intent was there. The product boss of Twitter, Ed Ho, stated in January of this year that "making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus." Also the company has tried to take actual action to "curb abusive behavior."

The response

However, the next question to ask is, are these companies doing enough? It was deemed that to some; they simply are not. And this was reflected in comments made. In March of this year Germany's justice minister, Heiko Maas, proposed a law that could lead to companies such as Facebook being "hit with heavy fines" if hate speech is not removed from their sites, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Further on from this Maas stated that the posts that were hateful "are not being deleted quickly enough" and that "networks aren't taking the complaints of their own users seriously enough."

What now going forwards?

It is clear that action did need to be taken and it has. It can also be claimed that progress has been made in tackling the issue. The statistics stated above do illustrate that. But is it enough? It can understand that for companies such as Facebook free speech is very important to them. But it comes to a stage where the question essentially is, is there a point where free speech needs to be sacrificed in need to protect the safety of others? Companies such as Facebook and Twitter are powerful bodies, and they need to act responsibly. It can be stated that we are on the right track in tackling online abuse, but certainly, more does need to be done going forwards.