France threat­ens new Facebook reg­u­la­tions amid Zucker­berg visit

The Scotsman - - WORLD NEWS - By AN­GELA CHARL­TON news­[email protected] scots­man. com

France has wel­comed Facebook boss Mark Zucker­berg with a threat of sweep­ing new reg­u­la­tion.

With Facebook un­der fire on mul­ti­ple fronts, Mr Zucker­berg ar­rived in Paris yes­ter­day to show his so­cial me­dia gi­ant was work­ing hard to limit vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and hate speech shared online.

But a group of French reg­u­la­tors and ex­perts who spent weeks in­side Facebook fa­cil­i­ties in Paris, Dublin and Barcelona say the com­pany isn’t work­ing hard enough.

J u s t b e f o r e Mr Z u c k e r - berg met French pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron in Paris, the ten of­fi­cials re­leased a re­port call­ing for laws al­low­ing the gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate and fine so­cial net­works that do not take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the con­tent that makes them money.

The French gov­ern­ment wants the leg­is­la­tion to serve as a model for Europe- wide man­age­ment of so­cial net­works. Sev­eral coun­tries have in­tro­duced sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion, some tougher than what France is propos­ing.

To an aver­age user, it seems like the prob­lem is in­tractable. Mass shoot­ings are livestream­ed and online mobs are spread­ing ru­mours that lead to deadly violence.

Facebook is even in­ad­ver­tently cre­at­ing cel­e­bra­tory videos us­ing ex­trem­ist con­tent and auto- gen­er­at­ing busi­ness pages for the likes of the Is­lamic State group and al- Qaida.

T h e c o mpany s ay s i t i s work­ing on so­lu­tions and the French reg­u­la­tors praised Facebook for hir­ing more peo­ple and us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to track and crack down on dan­ger­ous con­tent.

But they said Facebook did not pro­vide the French offic i al s e nough i nf or­ma­tion about its al­go­rithms to judge whether they were work­ing and that a “lack of trans­parency ... jus­ti­fies an in­ter­ven­tion of pub­lic au­thor­i­ties”.

The reg­u­la­tors rec­om­mended legally re­quir­ing a “duty of care” for big so­cial net­works, mean­ing they should mod­er­ate hate speech pub­lished on their plat­forms.

The reg­u­la­tors ac­knowl­edged their re­search did not ad­dress vi­o­lent con­tent shared on pri­vate chat groups or en­crypted apps, or on groups like 4chan or 8chan, where crim­i­nals and ex­trem­ists and those con­cerned about pri­vacy in­creas­ingly turn to com­mu­ni­cate.

Facebook said Mr Zucker­berg was in France as part of meet­ings around Europe to dis­cuss fu­ture reg­u­la­tion of the in­ter­net.

Mr Zucker­berg’s visit comes amid ris­ing con­cerns about hate speech and dis­in­for­ma­tion around this month’s Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions.

Next week t he l ead­ers of France and New Zealand will meet tech lead­ers in Paris for a sum­mit seek­ing to ban acts of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism from be­ing shown online.

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