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Facebook France faces lawsuit for deceptive practices

Reporters Without Borders accuses social media platform for spreading hate speech and false information on its networks

Shweta Desai   | 23.03.2021
Facebook France faces lawsuit for deceptive practices

PARIS

A Paris-based international media watchdog has filed a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook for spreading hate speech and false information on its networks that contradicts the company’s own promises to provide a safe and error-free online environment.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on March 22 filed a legal suit with the public prosecutor in Paris accusing Facebook France and Ireland of “deceptive commercial practices,” the independent NGO campaigning for free press and information said in a statement.

Under the French consumer code, a commercial establishment can face a fine of up to 10% of annual turnover for misleading or false claims, statements, representations with regard to goods or service or advertisement claims.

Using expert analyses, personal testimony, and statements from former Facebook employees in its lawsuit, RSF has accused that contrary to the claims made in its terms of service and through its ads, the social media platform allows disinformation, hate speech, hatred against journalists, and others to flourish on its network.

It cited research reports proving Facebook is a “hub of vaccine conspiracy theories” in French-speaking communities, details of Charlie Hebdo’s page in September 2020 registering comments with insults, threats, and calls for violence against the magazine and its journalists, and the hate messages on public pages against journalists from French TV program Quotidien and daily L’Union.

Also, RSF pointed out that posting of conspiracy theory videos and documentaries like Hold Up and Manigances-19, spreading falsehoods, was not disbarred from the platform. It also submitted reports with posts containing disinformation about COVID-19 which was not labeled as such on Facebook.

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