Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Three French human rights groups say they will take the world’s biggest social media companies to court for allowing hate speech on their platforms.
SOS Homophobie, the Jewish Students’ Union (UEJF) and SOS Racism have accused the companies of hypocrisy for being obsessed with banning images of topless women but not cracking down on discriminatory posts.
The groups said that between March 31 and May 10 this year they identified and monitored 586 social media posts that were racist, anti-Semitic, holocaust-denying, homophobic, or advocating terrorism or crimes against humanity.
They claim that of these almost 600 posts, only four percent were removed from Twitter, seven percent from YouTube and 34 percent from Facebook.
The groups said that the sites need to explain to the courts why they have not met their legal obligations under a 2004 French law requiring them to remove racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic posts within a reasonable time and report these to the authorities.
“Given the profits made by YouTube, Twitter and Facebook in France and the few taxes they pay, their refusal to invest in the fight against hatred is unacceptable,” commented Sacha Reingewirtz, President of UEJF.
“Since these major platforms do not respect French law, not even their own policies, they will have to face justice,” he said.
Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racism, argued that, “These platforms seem more shocked by images of topless women that are promptly censored than by the incitement to hatred against persons or groups of persons.”
He added: “Our lawsuit against them is to enforce a law that they must now fully comply with.”
The groups slammed the social media sites for not being open about their “mysterious” moderation procedures and said they hope that their lawsuit will “shed light on the operation and the profiles of social networking moderators”.