On May 13, the French parliament adopted a law that requires online platforms such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat to remove reported “hateful content” within 24 hours and “terrorist content” within one hour. Failure to do so could result in exorbitant fines of up to €1.25 million or 4% of the platform’s global revenue in cases of repeated failure to remove the content.
The scope of online content deemed “hateful” under what is known as the “Avia law” (after the lawmaker who proposed it) is, as is common in European hate speech laws, very broadly demarcated and includes “incitement to hatred, or discriminatory insult, on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability”.
“This law proposal aims to combat the spread of hate speech on the internet,” it is stated in the introduction to the Avia law.
“No one can dispute the exacerbation of hate speech in our society… the attack[s] on others for what they are, because of their origins, their religion, their sex or their sexual orientation… hints… [at] the darkest hours in our history… the fight against hatred, racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet is an objective of public interest that justifies…strong and effective provisions… this tool of openness [the internet] to the world, of access to information, to culture, to communication, can become a real hell for those who become the target of ‘haters’ or harassers hidden behind screens and pseudonyms. According to a survey carried out in May 2016, 58% of our fellow citizens consider the internet to be the main locus of hate speech. More than 70% say they have already been confronted with hate speech on social networks. For younger people in particular, cyber-harassment can be devastating…However… Few complaints are filed, few investigations are successful, few convictions are handed down – this creates a vicious circle…”
Having acknowledged that online “hatred”