The NGO stated that the social network has ‘deceptive commercial practices’ due to the ‘mass proliferation’ of hate messages and false information violating its own commitments to Internet users.
The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced on Tuesday (23) that it has filed a lawsuit in France against Facebook for “deceptive business practices”, estimating that the “mass proliferation” of hate messages and information false on the social network violates its own commitments to Internet users.
Presented on Monday (22) to the French Public Prosecutor’s Office, the action is based on the “manifest contradiction between the social network’s commitments to its consumers and the reality of its functioning”.
Consulted by AFP, the document denounces the subsidiaries Facebook France and Facebook Ireland, through which the group develops its activities in France.
RSF seeks to demonstrate that the US giant’s commitments contemplated, in particular, in its general conditions of use “are largely based on false statements”.
For example: although the platform is committed to maintaining a “safe and error-free environment”, the NGO highlights hate messages and other false information in its content.
The NGO cites death threats against journalists from the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and the publication of the documentary “Hold Up”, which promotes conspiracy theories.
For the NGO, this constitutes, according to the French consumer code, a “deceptive commercial practice”, a crime liable to a fine that “can reach 10% of the annual turnover”.
Given that “the conditions of Facebook services are the same across the globe, a court decision in France about its misleading nature could have a global impact,” according to RSF, which is considering filing similar lawsuits in other countries.
To G1, Facebook did not comment on the action but said it has “zero tolerance for harmful content” and is investing in combating hate speech and misinformation.
In recent months, denunciations against social media have multiplied in France, like that of 14 feminist activists who denounced Facebook (see the full text below).
They criticize their Instagram subsidiary for censoring some of their publications, while allowing users to harass them with impunity. Twitter is also the target of several lawsuits in the country.
See Facebook’s positioning:
“We have zero tolerance for any harmful content on our platforms and we are investing heavily to combat hate speech and misinformation.
In recent years, we have tripled the size of our team working on security-related issues for 35,000 employees and have developed artificial intelligence technology to proactively find and remove harmful content.
We removed 12 million pieces of content containing harmful misinformation about COVID-19 and built the largest global fact verification network, with more than 80 partners worldwide. They helped us add warning labels to more than 167 million COVID-19 content on Facebook.
Last month, we also introduced special protections for Personal profiles of journalists on Facebook in France and other European countries.
Our measures will never be perfect, and although no one can completely eliminate misinformation and hate speech from the Internet, we continue to rely on research, experts and technologies to address them in the most comprehensive and effective way possible ”- Facebook spokesperson
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