France: Social media must help stop violence promotion

2015-01-23 06:31
(Sean Locke Photography /

(Sean Locke Photography /

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New York - France appealed on Thursday for UN member states to work together on an international legal framework that would make social network providers share responsibility for the use of their platforms to spread messages promoting violence.

"There are hate videos, calls for death, propaganda that has not been responded to, and we need to respond," Harlem Desir, French state secretary for European affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting on the rising threat of anti-Semitism.

The French call for a radical shift in the way governments treat social networking companies such as Facebook and Twitter came two weeks after Islamist militants killed 17 people in Paris at a satirical magazine and a Kosher supermarket.

"We must limit the dissemination of these messages," Desir said. "We must... establish a legal framework so the internet platforms, the large companies managing social networking, so that they're called upon to act responsibly."

Michael Roth, German minister of state for Europe, echoed Desir's remarks.

"We need a clear legal framework for the EU and on the international level," Roth said.

Desir called for an international conference in the coming weeks. France announced this week it would recruit thousands of extra police, spies and investigators to boost national security and intelligence.

But this is not enough, Desir said. The world should target militants' use of the internet and social networks to promote violence and discrimination.

Desir cited child pornography, which social networking companies have banned at the request of governments, saying it should be the same with calls for hatred and violence.

"We believe that the racist remarks, anti-Semitic remarks, spread through the internet today or in other media do not fall in the category of expressing an opinion," he said. "Rather there should be law that allows for us to suppress a rejection of others and a call for violence and a call for death."

Western governments have cited the use of social networks by Islamic State militants to entice young foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, where government and UN officials say they have participated in beheadings, massacres and other war crimes. More French citizens have joined Islamic State than any other nationality.

Read more on:    un  |  france  |  social networks

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