Wednesday, June 12, 2024

French President Says Social Media Outlets are Inciting Riots

He also said that the country will take 'all necessary measures if we become aware that social networks, whoever they are, don’t respect the law...'

(Headline USA) Social media companies are once again under scrutiny for stirring domestic unrest, this time in France as the country’s president blames TikTok, Snapchat and other platforms for helping fuel widespread riots.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron accused social media of playing a “considerable role” in encouraging copycat acts of violence as officials try to tamp down riots wreaking havoc in the country.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said police made 917 arrests on Thursday alone.

More than 300 police officers have also been injured attempting to quell the rioting over the death of the teenage driver at the hands of police.

Macron, who in tandem castigated video games for the rioting, said the French government would work with social media sites to take down “the most sensitive content.”

Macron also expressed an interest in identifying users who “call for disorder or exacerbate the violence.

A French official, speaking anonymously, said the name and address of the police officer who shot at Nahel were published on social media.

A prison officer also has seen his professional card going on social media sites, the official said, suggesting it could put the person’s life and family at risk.

During his speech on Friday, Macron did not specify what type of content he viewed as “sensitive,” but he said he expected “a spirit of responsibility” from the social media platforms.

Talks between the government and social media platforms including Snapchat and Twitter, have started with the aim to speed up the process to remove content inciting to violence, the official said.

The French government is also pushing for identifying people who launch calls for violence but it’s still at the “discussion” stage.

Darmanin said that in a meeting with social networks, he’d delivered a warning that they can’t allow themselves to be used as channels for calls to violence.

“They were very cooperative,” he said. “We’ll see tonight if they really are.”

Darmanin said on Friday that French authorities will provide social media companies with “as much information as possible” so that, in return, they get identities of people who incite violence, adding that authorities will “pursue every person who uses these social networks to commit violent acts.”

He also said that the country will take “all necessary measures if we become aware that social networks, whoever they are, don’t respect the law.”

France has a law against cyber harassment. Online threats of crimes, like rape and murder, as well as online insults, and incitements to violence can be prosecuted.

In 2020, the country’s parliament approved a bill that would compel platforms and search engines to remove prohibited content within 24 hours.

Rachel Racusen, spokesperson for Snapchat, one of the social media platforms Macron blamed for contributing to the upheaval, said that since Tuesday, it has increased its moderation to detect and act on content related to the riots in France.

But many of the others are keeping mum. TikTok as well as Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, did not immediately reply for comment on Friday. Twitter answered only with an automated reply of a poop emoji, as it has done for months under Elon Musk’s tenure.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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