UPDATED: March 25, 2021 16:20 IST
Facebook is facing a lawsuit from global media watchdog reporters without borders (RSF) in France over hate speech and false information on the platform. The RSF in a statement said that the lawsuit concerned Facebook France and Facebook Ireland and is based on the French consumer code, under which companies using deceptive commercial practices can be liable to fines of up to 10 per cent of annual turnover.
“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 on its network contrary to the claims made in its terms of service and through its ads,” RSF said.
RSF said that a court ruling against Facebook in France had the potential to have a global impact and that it was considering filing similar lawsuits in other countries, Reuters reported.
In related news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has noted that he supports reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ahead of a misinformation hearing on Thursday.Zuckerberg, in prepared testimony ahead of a House hearing Thursday, called for making liability protection for internet platforms conditional on having systems in place for identifying and removing unlawful material, Bloomberg reported.
Zuckerberg’s testimony that notes that “Section 230 would benefit from thoughtful changes to make it work better for people, but identifying a way forward is challenging given the chorus of people arguing — sometimes for contradictory reasons — that the law is doing more harm than good.”
It adds that “platforms should not be held liable if a particular piece of content evades its detection — that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day.” Under Zuckerberg’s proposal, a third party would determine whether the company’s systems are adequate enough to handle the load.
Meanwhile, Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted that he opposes any changes to the law. Reforming it or repealing it all together “would have unintended consequences — harming both free expression and the ability of platforms to take responsible action to protect users in the face of constantly evolving challenges,” Pichai said in his prepared remarks. Section 230 is part of a law called the Communications Decency Act, The Independent notes. The law shields any website or service that hosts content such as news outlets’ comment sections, video services like YouTube, and social media services like Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over content posted by users.