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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (now executive chairman) urged tech companies and governments to fight both censorship and hate speech online in an op-ed for the New York Times on Monday. The Internet, he said, has made amazing things possible, but has also enabled new types of crimes and potentially harmful behaviors.
"Ever since there’s been fire, there’s been arson," Schmidt wrote. "The Internet is showing us the raw reality of the lives of oppressed people and their real needs, and it is also allowing some of our worst traits — in the form of envy, oppression and hate — to come into full view as well."
It's the responsibility of companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook, as well as countries that value free speech, he wrote, to ensure that voices that need to be heard are amplified. At the same time, the companies have to be careful about groups and individuals who try to use social media to sow hate, Schmidt said.
The editorial comes on the heels of other calls for crackdowns on the online presence of terror and hate groups like ISIS. President Obama said in a televised speech Sunday night that he plans to "urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice."
"We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media — sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment," Schmidt wrote on Monday. "Intuition, compassion, creativity — these are the tools that we will use to combat violence and terror online."