Quoted: on Internet companies as hate-speech ‘accomplices’

“The big operators, and we know who they are, can no longer close their eyes if they are considered accomplices of what they host.”

Francois Hollande, president of France, said Tuesday the government will draft a law that would make Internet companies accomplices of hate-speech offenses if they don’t crack down on certain messages. Bloomberg points out that France has laws against racist speech and Holocaust denials, for example. “We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that Internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible, and that sanctions can be taken,” Hollande said.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter — which are presumably among the companies Hollande had in mind — are no strangers to takedown requests, of course. A few examples:

  • We wrote in 2013 that a French court ordered Twitter to turn over information to help identify racist and anti-Semitic tweeters.
  • In the United States, a coalition of women’s advocates succeeded in getting Facebook to promise to do better in getting rid of pages that promote violence against women, we wrote a couple of years ago.
  • And late last year, Twitter made changes to make it easier for users to report abusive content, as our Michelle Quinn wrote.

Facebook’s terms of service states the following: “You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” From Twitter’s TOS: “You understand that by using the Services, you may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive.”


Photo: French President Francois Hollande, left, gives a speech Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 at the Holocaust memorial in Paris to mark the international day of Holocaust remembrance, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Does anyone believe these people? They say “I am Charlie” when the attack is against Muslims, but they recoil in horror if the attack is against Jews.

    What’s that famous saying from a prophet circa 2000 years ago? “They are liars and hypocrites – the truth isn’t in them”.