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Regulating Digital Services:
What Works, What Doesn't
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Illegal Products

The regulation on a single market for digital services or digital services act  proposed by the European Commission in 2020 would extend the scope of potential violations for spreading illegal content to include illegal products.Though not yet clearly defined, these products would likely fall into two categories: goods that infringe intellectual property rights, such as counterfeit and pirated articles; and dangerous or non-legally compliant goods, such as endangered species or explosives.

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Amount of Listings Removed as a Result of an Alleged Infringement of the Right Owners' IPR (2016-2019)

The chart presents the key performance indicators for monitoring the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Sale of Counterfeit Goods, over the period 2016 - 2019. The results of the report show that the platforms’ pro-active measures are the main driver for the amount of listings removed, as they accounted for 98% of the listings removed in 2019 (12% increase since 2016).
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Cases of Products Detentions at the European Union Borders, 2017 - 2020

This chart shows the number of cases of products detentions at the European Union boders the period 2017-2020, based on the results of the EUIPO report "EU Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: Results at the EU Border and in the EU Internal Market 2020," published in December 2021. The results show that the number of cases has declined in 2020 by almost 25%, reaching a similar level to the one in 2018.
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Categories of Dangerous Counterfeit Goods Imported into the European Union

The chart presents the share of different types of dangerous goods destined to European Union member states, in the period 2017 - 2019, based on the OECD and the European Union Intellectual Property Office report "Dangerous Fakes: Trade in Counterfeit Goods that Pose Health, Safety and Environmental Risks," published in March 2022. Except for the data refering to first three categories of dangerous goods, which are mentioned in the report, the values for the other type of dangerous goods are not explicitely displayed in the source, therefore most of the value of data in this chart are approximate, determined with pixel count. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

Incitement to Terrorism

The crackdown on terrorism has emerged as the cutting-edge for issues arising from the global reach of Internet platforms, large and small.
National governments have laws and law-enforcement bodies. But terrorism is quite often global – with operations in one country being planned to disrupt life in another. The Internet provides a convenient network for terrorists to share content, recruit and even communicate across borders – unless they are prevented from doing so. The result is an evident need to cooperate globally.

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Change in social app downloads in United States in January 2021

The chart shows the per cent of change in the downloads of social apps in United States, from 05 to 10 January 2021. The article presents a short analysis of motives, trends and possible effects of policy changes of major social network platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.
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Cumulative Suspension Rate for Accounts Eventually Suspended

The graph shows the cumulative suspension rate for all accounts identified as being Islamic State or Jihadi by the number of days the accounts survived before being suspended (on the horizontal axis). The data shows that Islamic State accounts have had higher suspension rates compared to other Jihadi accounts. The chart focuses on accounts that were independently judged to have breached Twitter’s terms of service.
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Cumulative Suspension Rate For All Accounts in Database

The graph shows the cumulative suspension rate for all accounts identified as being Islamic State or Jihadi by the number of days the accounts survived before being suspended. The data shows that Islamic State accounts have had higher suspension rates compared to other Jihadi accounts.

Disinformation

Few issues are as contentious as the role and spread of "disinformation" on social media and Internet platforms.
First and foremost is the thorny question of how disinformation can best be identified and when platforms should be required to block and/or remove content. The issue touches upon core questions of free speech and political expression. And has led to a plethora of confused policies and stop-start initiatives. According to a recent "code of conduct" agreed in 2018 with platform-industry input, platforms must remove any content that "may cause public harm" or poses "threats to democratic political and policymaking processes as well as public goods such as the protection of European Union citizens’ health, the environment or security." But the same agreement excludes a ban on "misleading advertising, reporting errors, satire and parody, or clearly identified partisan news and commentary."

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Accounts Suspended for Violations of Twitter COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy

The chart presents the number of accounts suspended by Twitter, due to violations of its COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy, for the period July 2020 - March 2022. The report shows the efforts of Twitter to limit the spread of COVID-19 disinformation online and it is part of the European Commission's Code of Practice on Disinformation monitoring process.
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Average Monthly Facebook Interactions for Prominent French News Sites and Some of The Most Popular False News Sites (2017)

This column chart from the Reuters Institute shows the average monthly Facebook interactions for several prominent French news sites and some of the most popular false French news sites, in million minutes. Notably, although the prominent news sites outperformed the false ones in reach and monthly time spent on their pages, their Facebook interactions lag behind some of the interactions achieved by the false news sites.
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Average Monthly Reach of Prominent French News Sites and Some of The Most Popular False News Sites (2017)

The graph shows that all of the false news sites in the French sample have a comparatively small reach. On average, most reached just 1% or fewer of the French online population each month in 2017. The most popular, Santé+ Magazine—an outlet that has been shown by Les Décodeurs to publish demonstrably false health information—reached 3.1% (this equates to around 1.5 million people). This was more than double that of well-known Russian outlets like Russia Today (1.5%) and Sputnik News (1.4%), which despite their international prominence, are used only by a small minority.

Hate Speech

The European approach to regulating and moderating the spread of hate speech online represents an interesting experiment in public-private collaboration.
A triad of normally unaffiliated institutions sit at the middle of this effort. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – particularly organisations with a background in promoting tolerance and fighting discrimination – are empowered to follow what happens on the platforms and "notify" content which they believe constitutes illegal hate speech. The platforms, in turn, evaluate 1) the notifications, 2) the local laws of the countries where a particular piece of content appears, and 3) their own community standards and guidelines. Based on that assessment, they decide if the content should be allowed to stay or taken down. Later the NGOs produce a report evaluating how much of the content they notified was taken down. The European Commission sits in the middle of the process – facilitating communication among the parties and providing periodic assessments of how much hate speech is slipping through despite the effort.

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Assessment of Manifestations of Anti-Semitism Against Jewish Community (Average of Selected European Union Member States)

The chart illustrates the assessment of respondents to the various acts of anti-Semitism against the Jewish community in 2013, at the level of the countries surveyed (eight European Union member states). European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Among the specific manifestations, three quarters of all respondents (75%) consider the online antisemitism as a particular problem (either "a very big" or a "fairly big problem").
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Assessment of Manifestations of Anti-Semitism Against Jewish Community Across European Union Countries

The table presents the share of respondents from eight European Union member states that assessed as a problem different manifestations of anti-Semitism against Jewish community in 2013. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The results show that more than half of the respondents in each country surveyed consider "antisemitism on the internet" as being a problem. For each country, the three most serious manifestations of antisemitism - as assessed by the respondents, are antisemitism on the Internet, in the media and expression of hostility towards Jews in the streets or other public places. The question asked was "In your opinion, how big a problem, if at all, are each of the following in [COUNTRY] today?" Answers include both "a very big problem" and "a fairly big problem." The items are listed in descending order according to the average of the eight countries.
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Awareness of a Law That Forbids Discrimination Based on Skin Colour, Ethnic Origin or Religion in Nine European Union Member States (2016)

The chart shows the level of awareness of Roma communities about a law that forbids discrimination based on skin colour, ethnic origin or religion in nine European Union member states, in 2016. European Union refes to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The results show that, on average, only slightly more than one in three Roma women (34 %) and men (38 %) are aware of the existence of such antidiscrimination legislation in their country.

Illegal Content

The law is clear; what is illegal offline is illegal online. And a bevy of European laws – such as the directive on combating terrorism (2017) and the directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (2011) – have been promulgated over the years, requiring platforms to remove illegal content "expeditiously," in the words of the electronic commerce directive, (2000) once they are notified or in some other way become aware of its existence.

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Acquired or Accessed Any Content Type Illegally (2017)

The chart shows the percent of respondents that use the internet who acquired or accessed any type of content illegaly over the past year. Respondents from Poland and Spain were the most likely to report having done so among European Union countries. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. As a note, the data in the chart covers exclusively the streamripping and pirated copies on physical carriers.
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Action Taken After Encountering Illegal Content (2018)

The chart shows that the majority of users took not action after encountering illegal content online. The chart results are based on the answers to the question “Q4. What action did you take after encountering this content?", for which the selection of more than one answer is possible. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Action Taken After Encountering Illegal Content (By Country)

The chart shows that most users took not action after encountering illegal content online, although respondents from Germany were the least likely to report having taken no action. The chart results are based on the answers to the question: What action did you take after encountering this content?, " for which the selection of more than one answer is possible. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

Chart of the Day

Share of Fake Accounts and Spam Content Actioned on Facebook (2017-2021)
The chart shows the share of fake accounts and spam content actioned on Facebook, from the fourh quarter of 2017 until the third quarter of 2021. While these two violations remain the main reasons of removal of content on Facebook, the data shows that the other types of violations (such as adult nudity and sexual activity, child nudity and sexual exploitation, bullying and harassment, dangerous organisations, hate speech, and violent and graphic content) have also increased during this period.
Source: Facebook. Transparency Report: Content Actioned on Facebook (facebook.com, 2021)

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