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Press Freedom Group Sues Facebook Over Misinformation, 'Hate Speech'

FILE - The Facebook logo is displayed at a gathering for startup companies at Paris' Station F., Jan. 17, 2017.
FILE - The Facebook logo is displayed at a gathering for startup companies at Paris' Station F., Jan. 17, 2017.

Press freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is suing Facebook in France, saying the social media platform spreads misinformation. The suit was filed Monday with the Paris public prosecutor.

"Reporters Without Borders accuses Facebook of 'deceptive commercial practices' on the grounds that the social media company's promises to provide a 'safe' and 'error-free' online environment are contradicted by the large-scale proliferation of hate speech and false information on its networks," the group said in a press release.

Specifically, the group says Facebook allows "hate speech" against the media, as well as misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. The group said Facebook allowed posts that were insulting and threatening against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as well as targeting the TV program "Quotidien" and a regional newspaper, L'Union.

Facebook said in a statement that it "has zero tolerance for any harmful content on our platforms," Bloomberg reported.

"Over the last few years, we've tripled the size of our safety and security team to 35,000 and built artificial intelligence technology to proactively find and remove harmful content," the statement continued, according to Bloomberg. "While nobody can eliminate misinformation and hate speech from the internet entirely, we continue using research, experts and technologies to tackle them in the most comprehensive and effective way possible."

Should RSF win its case, the decision could have global repercussions for Facebook, as its terms of service are similar worldwide. Any change in France could trigger changes elsewhere.

Facebook and other Big Tech companies have been under intense pressure to stop what some call misinformation. In December, the EU proposed new regulations that could hit companies with fines of up to 6% of their global revenue for not complying with orders to remove content deemed violent hate speech, according to Bloomberg.

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