Reporters Without Borders Sues Facebook in France over Hate Speech and False Information

Reporters without Borders announced on Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit against Facebook France, saying the website breaks its own terms of service by failing to protect users against hate speech. 

The Paris-based campaign organization, known by its French acronym RSF, said it was suing Facebook for “misleading commercial practices.” 

Facebook has allowed the “massive proliferation” of hate speech and false information on its site, RSF said.

RSF argues that while Facebook’s terms of service pledges to provide “a safe, secure and error-free environment” for users,” it fails to do so as hateful content and misinformation run rampant on the site. 

The legal complaint targets subsidiaries of Facebook France and Facebook Ireland, through which the company conducts some of its French services.

The complaint particularly references death threats against journalists at the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, posted on Facebook as well as “Hold Up,” a French film about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Companies found to have carried out misleading commercial practices can be fined up to 10% of their average annual revenues in France. 

Due to Facebook using the same terms of service worldwide, RSF said the French court’s ruling “could have a global impact”, adding that they are now considering “launching similar cases in other countries.” 

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