French lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill requiring social media companies to report to police posts that glorify or threaten violence, or express hate speech, and to remove the post within 24 hours. Companies that fail to remove illegal content could face a fine of approximately $1.4 million.
After removing a post, social companies are required to remind their platforms’ users of the potential criminal or civil offenses of posting hateful content on the website. The law also obligates social media companies to hold onto the illegal content for at least a year in case authorities need it for an investigation. The legislation, modeled after similar legislation in Germany and across the European Union, was introduced in the National Assembly over a year ago.
CRIF President and WJC Vice President Francis Kalifat welcomed the passage of the legislation, describing it as “an important step and step forward in the fight against online hatred...hate on the Internet is a scourge that should not be overlooked.”
French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled the proposed legislation at the Representative Council of Jews of France (Crif) dinner in February 2019. In his remarks, Macron called for France to draw "new red lines" against intolerance and hatred.
In February 2020, CRIF launched an Online Hate Speech Observatory, aimed at analyzing antisemitic incidents on the internet across the country. In its initial research, the Observatory classified 51,816 antisemitic incidents according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA). Crif concluded that it was likely that the rate of antisemitic incidents online were higher than the report found since only incidents involving public accounts were included in the Observatory.