France launches offensive against internet hate speech

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“Islamists should not be allowed to sleep soundly in our country.” This phrase by Emmanuel Macron, released on Sunday night in the framework of a Defense Council aimed at confronting the terrorist attack that killed Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher who showed his students the Muhammad cartoons to Illustrating a class on freedom of expression, stands today as a rallying cry against radical Islamism. This same Monday, the police authorities began a series of searches and arrests against the authors of more than 80 messages supporting or extolling the material author of the macabre attack.

“Since the murder of this professor, 80 files have been opened against hate in social networks, against those who in an apologetic way have explained in one way or another that this professor sought it out. […] Police operations began this morning and will continue. They are very numerous and concern dozens of people& rdquor ;, explained the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, in an interview with Europe 1.

“Leader of the infidels”

The role of social networks in the radicalization of certain users and in the dissemination of messages inciting violence grabs the attention of the French media. The 18-year-old Chechen man vindicated his act through Twitter, posting an image of his beheaded victim along with a message addressed to the French president, “the leader of the infidels & rdquor ;:“ I have executed one of your hellhounds who has daring to demote Muhammad & rdquor ;. On this account, blocked after the event, an alert weighed since last July. At that time, the public body Pharos – Platform for Harmonization, Analysis, Verification and Alert Orientation aimed at compiling complaints of illegal content on the internet – decided not to suspend the user considering that there was no real danger of passage to the act , as revealed this Monday by the France Info station.

The assailant’s Twitter account, shot down by law enforcement After resisting his arrest, he is not the only element that attracts the attention of the spotlight to social networks. The controversy centers on a video released on October 8 via Facebook by the father of a 13-year-old student from the Bois d’Aulne school, where Samuel Paty worked. The individual called the teacher a “scoundrel & rdquor; and he described how the teacher would have asked his Muslim students to raise their hands and then invite them to leave the classroom, and then teach his students the image of “a naked man & rdquor ;, presenting him as the prophet Muhammad. At no point does the author of the recording explain that it is a simple cartoon.

Public lynching

The controversial video, which spread like wildfire on social networks, could be the origin of the tragic event. On Monday morning, the Interior Minister denounced “una fetua ‘on line’” thrown at the victim. For the Government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, there is no doubt: “Those who participated in the public lynching of this teacher through videos on the networks are in some way responsible for what happened & rdquor ;.

Given the circumstances, detecting this type of content is a priority for the Macron government. More than 1.5 million alerts have been processed by the Pharos platform since its creation in 2009. In 2018, it received more than 160,000 complaints, of which about 14,000 would be related to incitement to hatred or discrimination. “Social networks are widely used to transmit messages inciting violence & rdquor ;, acknowledges the Elysee. In this context, the government action plan to combat Islamist terrorism now includes the strengthening of this platform.

The responsibility of the main digital players will also be examined. The Deputy Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, will meet this Tuesday with the French representatives of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok, “to pressure them on their complacency towards the preachers of hate & mldr; & rdquor ;, according to a government source cited by ‘The world’. For Schiappa, the current threat has a first and last name: “The advance of cyberislamism & rdquor;.

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