France accuses social networks of fueling unrest and imposes tough sanctions for inciting violence
The influence of social networks has a bad effect on the political mood of citizens.
French government suggested introduce stiff fines and jail terms for social networks such as Twitter* and TikTok, if they do not remove content that the authorities believe promotes violence and unrest in real life. The initiative was triggered by a wave of civil protests in the country after the murder of a teenager by a policeman in the suburbs of Paris.
Under the French government’s proposal, social media operators would be required to remove or block access to messages, images, videos and live broadcasts that “clearly incite violence against persons in positions of power, destruction of or intrusion into buildings or public facilities.” If operators do not do so within two hours of receiving an order from the competent administrative authority, they may be sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined up to €250,000.
The French government said recent news shows a growing effect of social media on riots and violent popular movements.
However, such a law raises many questions and problems. It is not clear who exactly will be held responsible: platform operators, moderators, or post authors. It is not clear who will determine what constitutes incitement and how the control and appeal of decisions will be carried out. It is also unclear how sanctions will be applied to foreign companies and citizens.
The regulation of social media can lead to systemic changes across all platforms or, if this is not possible, to the introduction of a total ban on them, if this is beneficial to society. On the other hand, holding individual employees or shareholders of Twitter* accountable for reacting reflexively to a legal amendment will not solve anything.
* The social network is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.