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Digital platforms and the rise of global regulation of hate speech

Paolo Cavaliere

Keywords: hate speech; freedom of expression; online intermediaries; platforms

The EU Code of Conduct on hate speech requires online platforms to set standards to regulate the blocking or removal of undesirable content. The standards chosen can be analysed for four variables: the scope of protection, the form of speech, the nature of harm, and the likelihood of harm. Comparing the platforms' terms of use against existing legal standards for hate speech reveals that the scope of speech that may be removed increases significantly under the Code's mechanism. Therefore, it is legitimate to consider the platforms as substantive regulators of speech. However, the Code is only the latest example in a global trend of platforms' activities affecting both the substantive regulation of speech and its governance. Meanwhile, States' authority to set standards of acceptable speech wanes.

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