Video-sharing platforms such as Google's YouTube and Vimeo will have to take measures to protect citizens from content containing hate speech and incitement to violence under measures voted by EU lawmakers on Tuesday.
The proliferation of hate speech and fake news on social media has led to companies coming under increased pressure to take it down quickly, while Internet campaigners have warned an excessive crackdown could endanger freedom of speech.
Members of the culture committee in the European Parliament voted on a legislative proposal that covers everything from 30 percent quotas for European works on video streaming websites such as Netflix to advertising times on TV to combating hate speech.
The lawmakers approved an amendment that would define video-sharing platforms as services or a "dissociable section of a wider service" that "play a significant role in providing programmes and user-generated videos to the general public, in order to inform, entertain or educate," which could include social media networks including Facebook and Twitter that also carry videos.
"Social media should not be regulated through the back door. Tackling hate speech on social media is important, but the CULT (culture) committee should not jump the gun by adopting a far-reaching definition of video sharing platforms without any proper impact assessment," said Marietje Schaake, a member of the Liberals group of the parliament.
While the proposal voted by the parliament will need to be discussed and eventually agreed with EU member states in the Council of the EU, the latter has also extended the scope of the law to cover social media companies.
Video-sharing platforms will have to take "appropriate, proportionate and efficient measures" to protect all citizens from content containing incitement to undermine human dignity or incitement to violence or hatred.
The lawmakers also voted to increase the quotas for European films and TV shows on video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to 30 percent from 20 percent, as originally proposed by the European Commission.
"Many video on demand platforms already fulfil a quota of over 20 percent, but this percentage should be increased," said Sabine Verheyen, the lawmaker steering the plans through the Brussels legislature.
Member states will also be able to require video on demand platforms to contribute financially to the production of European works in the country where they are established and also where they target audiences.
In the latter case, the financial contributions will be based only on the revenues services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video earn in the targeted state.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes Google, Facebook and Netflix, said the introduction of levies for video on demand providers would harm the EU's single market.
It would "distort investment in the EU towards a few member states," said Maud Sacquet, public policy manager for CCIA.
© Thomson Reuters 2017