Facebook agrees to hand over details of racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic users to French cops in world first

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FACEBOOK has agreed to hand over data of French users suspected of spewing hate speech online in a groundbreaking world first.

President Emmanuel Macron wants to take a leading role globally on the regulation of hate-filled threats against internet users and the spread of false information on social media.

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Zuckerberg with French leader Macron who is taking a strong stance on the spread of hate speech online[/caption]

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Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to hand over data of users who commit hate speech to French judges[/caption]

He has had successive meetings with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg which has resulted in the landmark decision.

So far, Facebook has cooperated with French justice on matters related to terrorist attacks and violent acts by transferring the IP addresses and other identification data of suspected individuals to French judges.

Following a meeting between Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, and France’s minister for digital affairs Cedric O last week, the social media company has extended this cooperation to hate speech.


“This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally,” O told Reuters in an interview.

“It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.”

It remains to be seen if UK and US authorities will strike similar agreements with social media giants in order to crackdown on malicious hate online.

O, whose father is South Korean, said Facebook’s decision was the result of an ongoing conversation between the internet giant and the French administration.

Since his nomination as minister in March, O has made the fight against hate speech online a key priority through regular contacts with Facebook’s top executives, including Zuckerberg.

Facebook declined to comment.

Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism

“It is a strong signal in terms of regulation,” said Sonia Cisse, a counsel at law firm Linklaters, adding that it was a world first. “Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism.”

With Facebook’s latest move, France is now a clear frontrunner in the quest to regulate big social media outlets, and other platforms might follow suite, Cisse said.

The discussions on how to best regulate tech giants began with a Zuckerberg-Macron meeting last year, followed by a report on tech regulation last month that Facebook’s founder considered could be a blueprint for wider EU regulation.

Facebook had refrained from handing over identification data of people suspected of hate speech because it was not compelled to do so under US-French legal conventions.

The social network was also worried countries without an independent judiciary could abuse it.

France’s parliament is debating legislation that would give the new regulator the power to fine tech companies up to four per cent of their global revenue if they don’t do enough to remove hateful content from their network.


Zuckerberg with Facebook communications chief Nick Clegg, centre, and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg[/caption]

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