France’s National Assembly adopted on 9 July a bill giving social media platforms 24 hours to remove hateful content or risk fines of up to 4% of their global revenue. The bill encourages users to report any online statements they deem racist, sexist or homophobic, to the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, the body responsible for enforcing the new regulations.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been stressing the need to monitor hate speech, particularly with the rise of anti-Semitism, on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter before it can provoke real-life violence. The draft legislation was proposed by a lawmaker from Macron’s party who has faced online harassment for being a black woman.
Free-speech advocates argue that hate speech is a question for the judicial authorities in each country to decide, not Facebook and Twitter.
Other European countries are also using measures to tackle the problem. Germany’s authorities recently fined Facebook €2 million for underreporting how many complaints it had received about illegal content.
The bill will now go to the French Senate and could become law after Parliament’s summer recess.