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Twitter, Facebook, YouTube face legal action in France over hate content

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg - French campaigners say the platform deletes nudity but not hate messages
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg - French campaigners say the platform deletes nudity but not hate messages Reuters/Stephen Lam

French anti-racist and gay rights campaigners are to take Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to court for failing to delete content they judge racist, homophobic or pro-terrorist. They accuse them of being keener to hide nudity than take down hate messages.

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France's Jewish Students' Union (UEJF), the anti-racist campaign SOS Racisme and gay-rights group SOS Homophobie say they will take legal action against the social media platforms for failing to comply with French laws that oblige them to take down illegal material and notify the authorities of its existence.

In a study published Sunday they found 586 items that were "racist, anti-Semitic, negationist or homophobe or condoned terrorism or crimes against humanity" posted between 31 March and 10 May on the three platforms.

Although they were notified of the posts, "only four percent were taken down from Twitter, seven percent from YouTube and 34 percent from Facebook".

"These platforms seem more shocked by bits of naked breasts, which are promptly censored, than by incitements to hatred towards people or groups of people," commented SOS Racisme president Dominique Sopo.

Although Facebook deleted 53 out of 156 items, the groups were not satisfied, pointing out that it "manifests a rigorous application of its rules on pornography".

"This raises the question of consistency between the community's standards, based on an American view of society, and French society and its legal system," they commented.

UEJF president Sacha Reingewirtz criticised the secrecy surrounding the way the media's moderators operate.

Right-wing media in the US have recently complained that the opacity conceals bias in Facebook's content promotion.

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