France is hoping to make internet companies such as Google and Facebook accountable for social media posts promoting terrorism, Bloomberg reports.
The French government is mounting pressure on web companies to take responsibility for online hate speech as the nation battles against extremist groups in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Bloomberg reports that President Hollande spoke in Paris on Tuesday about a new law that would make internet operators “accomplices” of such offences — making a racial statement is a crime in France. A draft of the legislation could be made next month and challenges messages across social media platforms.
The president was talking at a memorial for Jews deported in World War II. He said that social media sites “can no longer close their eyes if they are considered accomplices of what they host,” and added: “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.”
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Hollande also challenged internet companies to crack down on illegal material and help governments identify potential criminals who pose a risk to the public. The problems are widespread: In Germany, a paper was attacked in connection with the Paris murders.
Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s interior minister, said he intends to travel to the US to discuss the possibility of intervention with some of the world’s biggest tech companies. Twitter, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook are all on the list. None responded with comment, however.
ISIS, probably the most radical Islamist terrorist group in the world right now, is well-known for harnessing social media to make threats and herald their cause to the world. The organisation recently documented a “violent frenzy” on Twitter as part of a social media push.
Business Insider previously reported: “The extremist group uses clever Twitter hashtags, professionally-shot propaganda videos, smartphone apps, and their own line of commercial products to amplify their war message.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t commented recently on the role that internet companies play in fighting terrorism, but he did champion the right to freedom of speech after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. He underlined the importance that the site has in giving people a voice and connecting people around the world.
If we live in fear that we’re going to get hurt because some extremist might not like what you say, that’s not freedom of expression either. That gets to the core of what Facebook is here to do: stand up and make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible.