Posted on November 13, 2018

France and Facebook Announce Partnership Against Online Hate Speech

Mark Scott and Zachary Young, Politico, November 12, 2018

Emmanuel Macron just “friended” Mark Zuckerberg.

The French president announced on Monday a six-month partnership with Facebook aimed at figuring out how the European country should police hate speech on the social network.

As part of the cooperation — the first time that Facebook has teamed up with national politicians to hammer out such a contentious issue — both sides plan to meet regularly between now and May, when the European election is due to be held. They will focus on how the French government and Facebook can work together to remove harmful content from across the digital platform, without specifying the outcome of their work or if it would result in binding regulation.

The partnership, which will involve meetings in Paris, Dublin and California, may be broadened out to cover other as yet unnamed areas after six months.

A French official who asked not to be named called the partnership an “unprecedented experiment” that would grant authorities insight into Facebook’s processes to formulate recommendations that are “concrete and operational.”


The move marks the latest effort by Facebook to quell anger about how it handles a variety of digital issues ranging from misinformation and hate speech to its use of data and role in people’s everyday lives.

{snip} The partnership with France is the latest example of how the industry has shifted its strategy from promoting self-regulation to taking on a growing role in how countries create legislation.


In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, as well as controversy about hate speech on the social network, Facebook is ramping up efforts to engage with policymakers worldwide. But with Facebook now playing such a central role in elections, the new six-month project will likely lead to criticism that Facebook plays too important a role in drafting rules that will affect its own business.


While the country upholds people’s right to freedom of expression, local lawmakers are already working on separate rules aimed at policing potential digital misinformation in the run up to future elections.