CRIF President Francis Kalifat welcomes French National Assembly vote on online hate speech law

22 May 2020 Facebook Created with Sketch. Twitter Created with Sketch. Email Print
CRIF President Francis Kalifat welcomes French National Assembly vote on online hate speech law

Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) President and WJC Vice President Francis Kalifat welcomed the French National Assembly adoption in mid-May of 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. Kalifat discussed the importance of the bill in an interview featured on the CRIF website.  

The French National Assembly adopted the bill against hate on the Internet, brought by the deputy Laetitia Avia. How do you feel about this vote?

Francis Kalifat: This is an important step in the fight against online hatred, even if we regret that this law does not take into account the new antisemitism expressed through hatred of the State of Israel. This text is a step in the right direction. 

Now, we need to wait and see what the application of this law will be in practice, and in particular about the financial sanctions linked to the obligation for platforms to remove hateful content within 24 hours. They will also have to show transparency in moderation and work in good cooperation with French justice.

The creation of a digital parquet is also a very good thing.

Will such a political response encourage big social networks to be more responsible towards hateful content published on their platforms? 

Francis Kalifat:  Absolutely. I think it was necessary to show a clear political will on this subject in order to encourage the big platforms to offer a concrete response on the subject of online hate.

CRIF maintains daily relations with the social networks in France - Facebook, Twitter and even Google - and we manage to work in cooperation regularly.

Earlier this week, our digital department massively reported two abject videos of Dieudonné and stressed the major platforms on the danger of such videos. They informed us a few hours later that the first of the two videos had been deleted.

The Avia Law will also, no doubt, have a dissuasive effect on harmful Internet users who publish hateful content.

CRIF has been involved in the fight against online hatred for years. What is the current state of hate on the Internet?

Francis Kalifat: Since the creation of a digital department in 2014, CRIF has been deeply involved in the fight against online hatred. What is illegal on the streets is just as illegal on the Internet.

CRIF has a monitoring team dedicated to reporting hateful content. These reports are made to Pharos (the French government platform for reporting online hate content), and to the main platforms directly, via dedicated reporting channels. We are seeing pretty good removal results.

Online hatred never ends. It’s a sad fact revealed by the publication of the first results of the CRIF Online Hate Speech Observatory. This Observatory, for the first time, makes it possible to quantify and qualify the antisemitic content published on the Internet in France. Thanks to the algorithms and tools of Artificial Intelligence, 51,816 contents were identified as antisemites by the CRIF Observatory

Very recently, right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, we noticed a lot of hate content on the Internet - and particularly on social networks.

I can assure you one thing: hate on the Internet is a scourge that should not be overlooked. This is why this Law comes at the right time.

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