French Groups to Sue Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for Not Removing Hate Speech

Imperial College French Society

Hate speech is a big problem on social media and unfortunately it doesn't look to be one that will disappear any time soon. Three groups in France, however, have now had enough of this and are suing Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for not deleting the hate speech.

The three groups are the Union of Jewish Students, SOS Racisme, and SOS Homophobie who in a joint statement on Sunday stated their intentions. The three groups conducted a survey from March 31st to May 10th and found 586 examples of racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic content as well as things that deny the Holocaust or justify terrorism across all three social media services. The last two examples are actually crimes in France so it makes sense that they require social media services to remove the content.

Out of all three services, Facebook was the most willing to remove content. Out of the 156 messages that the groups reported on Facebook, 53 of them were deleted. This was around 34% compared to the 7% on YouTube and the 4% on Twitter. It's incredibly sad that so few pieces of hateful content have been removed because it does go against most social network terms and conditions. Facebook are quite happy to remove a photo of a naked statue, but won't always remove content that's hateful to a person or a group of people, which is kind of contradictory. Twitter on the other hand have always had a problem when it comes to hate speech. They argue that it's difficult for them to police users tweets as users should be able  to say what they want. They do claim they're trying to deal with hate, but they're clearly not doing a great job. YouTube is an even bigger issue as the hate could be coming from the videos or comments. The comments are essentially impossible to police and with videos, once one is removed, another will likely follow. So it is a little more difficult for these services to handle hate, but they need to work out how they can do so.

This lawsuit is unfortunately only really looking at hate speech as it applies to France though. This survey has made the groups wonder if the values of social networks match French legislation. If this goes through, then social media companies are all going to have to sit back and figure out a way to deal with hateful content online that actually works, lest this lawsuit be repeated elsewhere.

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