Reporters without Borders file lawsuit against Facebook over hate speech and misinformation

The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this illustration picture.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit against Facebook in France, citing a proliferation of hate speech against media and falsehoods about COVID-19.

In the latest of a slew of battles governments and campaigners are waging with Big Tech around the world, the media watchdog noted large amounts of coronavirus misinformation on Facebook including vaccine conspiracy theories.

The social media platform also carried posts threatening and insulting French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, TV programme Quotidien and regional newspaper L’Union, RSF said.

“Using expert analyses, personal testimony and statements from former Facebook employees, RSF’s lawsuit demonstrates that … it (Facebook) allows disinformation and hate speech to flourish … contrary to the claims made in its terms of service and through its ads,” its statement said.

The suit was filed with the Paris public prosecutor on Monday.

Facebook France declined to comment on the suit but said in a statement it had zero tolerance for harmful content and was investing heavily to combat hate speech and misinformation.

RSF said a court ruling against Facebook in France had potential global impact and that it was considering filing similar lawsuits elsewhere.

It added that the suit concerned Facebook France and Facebook Ireland and was based on the French consumer code, under which companies using deceptive commercial practices can be liable to fines of up to 10% of annual turnover.

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