Facebook Allowing French Censors To Embed With The Company, And Maybe That's A Good Thing?

from the this-should-be-interesting dept

While much of the attention around French President Emmanuel Macron's speech at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on Monday was focused on the so-called "Paris Call" agreement on cybersecurity, it was also an occasion for the French President to announce a plan to effectively embed regulators with Facebook to learn how to better censor the platform:

The French president announced on Monday a six-month partnership with Facebook aimed at figuring out how the European country should police hate speech on the social network.

As part of the cooperation — the first time that Facebook has teamed up with national politicians to hammer out such a contentious issue — both sides plan to meet regularly between now and May, when the European election is due to be held. They will focus on how the French government and Facebook can work together to remove harmful content from across the digital platform, without specifying the outcome of their work or if it would result in binding regulation.

Facebook's press people have pushed back on the claim that this is a program to "embed" government censors within Facebook, saying it's more just about showing them how Facebook manages content moderation:

It's a pilot program of a more structured engagement with the French government so that both sides can better understand the other's challenges in dealing with the issue of hate speech online. The program will allow a team of regulators, chosen by the Elysee, to familiarize [itself] with the tools and processes set up by Facebook to fight against hate speech. The working group will not be based in one location but will travel to different Facebook facilities around the world, with likely visits to Dublin and California. The purpose of this program is to enable regulators to better understand Facebook's tools and policies to combat hate speech and, for Facebook, to better understand the needs of regulators.

While many people may have the instinctual reaction that having government regulators coming in to see how to "better" censor speech on your platform is inherently a problem, one hopes that the end result of this is influencing things in the other direction. A bad outcome would be French regulators deciding that this experience gives them enough info to craft impossible regulations to wave digital magic wands and "make the bad stuff disappear." But a more optimistic argument would be that it gives these French regulators a chance to get some first hand knowledge of (1) how seriously Facebook takes this issue (don't laugh, because the company absolutely does take this issue seriously now, even if it didn't in the past) and (2) just how impossible it is to do a particularly good job at it (even as Facebook has gotten much better in the past year).

So while I'm always a little concerned about the idea of having government regulators come into a company when the upfront stated objective is about more content moderation demands, it certainly would be beneficial for French officials not to be so incredibly ignorant about how content moderation at scale truly works, and why the easy solutions they always seem to propose won't help (and could make problems significantly worse).


Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Bud Wiser, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:15pm

    You're "always a little concerned"? Freudian reveal: "a little".

    I've long said that you're for merging state and corporations, so I take it that way -- and your denial as automatic, adds no information. (But yes, to forestall the inevitable gainsaying: IF anyone tries to refute my statement, then I have, logically, added information to the fray.)

    Anyhoo, larger topic: WE are living in the building period of a dystopian TOTAL surveillance system, which Masnick appears to promote (esp by asserting that corporations have total control over Section 230 "platforms"), and very few here appear to at all worry about the key corporations, GOOGLE and Facebook gaining power. So I've long railed. I'm one of the protagonists in the dystopian novels, and you kids are mostly NPCs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:30pm

      Re:Member when you promised to leave forever

      What’s French for gigantic lair?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:34pm

        Re: Re:Member when you promised to leave forever

        repaire gigantesque

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          nae such, 15 Nov 2018 @ 5:46am

          Re: Re: Re:Member when you promised to leave forever

          i get(or google translate does) repaire gigantesque as gigantic den. is this a joke i'm missing?

          i get gigantesque menteur for gigantic liar. if you were looking for 'din' google spits out:

          le vacarme - din, noise, racket, hubbub, row, blare

          le tapage - noise, fuss, uproar, disturbance, din, racket

          le chahut - heckling, uproar, rumpus, bedlam, din, rowdiness

          l' boucan - racket, din, row, hullabaloo, shindy, rumpus

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Re:Member when you promised to leave forever

        Bud Wiser

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 4:54pm

        Re: Re:Member when you promised to leave forever

        out of ze blue

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:38pm

      IF anyone tries to refute my statement, then I have, logically, added information to the fray.

      Nah, fam, all you’ve added is a bunch of trite contrarianism on top of your psychologically unhealthy obsession with Mike Masnick/Techdirt. Seek professional help, my child.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:48pm

      Re: You're "always a little concerned"? Freudian reveal: "a little".

      It's funny how you think a literal description of how a law works is an "assertion"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:59pm

      Re: You're "always a little concerned"? Freudian reveal: "a little".

      "I'm one of the protagonists in the dystopian novels, and you kids are mostly NPCs."

      Ha ha ha. Yeah Brah.... you... are so... cool.
      ROFL.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:10pm

      Re: You're "always a little concerned"? Freudian reveal: "a little".

      You're more like Heimskr in Skyrim - shouting your repetitive rhetoric endlessly, over and over, in the most annoying fashion possible.

      That's where the comparison ends, though, because Heimskr actually has some valid points.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:34pm

      Freudian projection at its finest.

      Do you really think shitty alt-lite memes you lifted from smarter, more racist people is going to help your reputation as a dumbass racist around here?

      Because honestly you should like an NPC who’s dialogue is bugged the fuck out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:27pm

    Hate speech is only speech YOU don't like. So really, ANYTHING could be labeled Hate Speech.

    These days it's Hate Speech or Racist. The words are just becoming more and more meaningless as they are just thrown out there all the time for everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      Hate speech is only speech YOU don't like.

      Got anything else to add beyond this tired tripe? We’ve heard it dozens of times before and it ain’t getting any more insightful or thought-provoking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:48pm

    Back in time...

    ...wow. Have we stopped teaching history to the extent that nobody under the age of 50 or so knows what a Political Officer is, what they do, and how much power they grab?

    Never thought I'd see USSR tactics employed by France. Mussolini, yes. USSR, no...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:01pm

      Re: Back in time...

      I was unaware Facebook was part of the French Military. I learn things everyday.

      Your attempted comparison only works on the most surface levels, and the actual concerns presented by french regulators being present at Facebook are in fact referenced in the article.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: Back in time...

        Really? I must have missed the classes on French History where they had Political Officers.

        It's the same model. Yeah, the French regulators are "concerned" about it.

        They're putting Political Officers at Facebook to ensure only Correct Thought is allowed to be seen in France. The comparison doesn't just "work", it's the basis for how such institutionalized "correction" is set up.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:12pm

      Re: Back in time...

      "...wow. Have we stopped teaching history"

      In Texas - and they want it to spread.
      This AP history. These kids want to learn and look at what they are doing to them - giving them bullshit - think they will notice?

      LOLOLOLOL

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re: Back in time...

        We've obviously stopped teaching basic Civics. Probably around 1970.

        The ignorance most people display of what cops are allowed to do, how an arrest works, and the basics of the court system is incredible.

        The number of former tenants I've evicted that think the court is going to appoint them an attorney is incredible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:10pm

    You can't be serious

    No, Mike, it's not a good thing. Such a corporate-government partnership might be essentially harmless in the free-speech USA, but let's not forget that in much of the rest of the world, and this includes France, so called "hate speech" can be a serious felony resulting in years in prison. French authorities will not just be involved in censoring people who mis-speak, they'll be prosecuting them, and doing it with Facebook's assistance and sanction. Don't think this won't happen, because it can and it will. France, like most of Europe, has a long history of jailing people who dare to express the wrong thoughts, and in recent years many more types of forbidden speech have been added to an ever-growing list. Embedding government enforcers in Facebook would be laying the groundwork for an Orwellian nightmare. Anyone who believes in the concept of free speech could never call this a "good thing."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_France

    http://www.unz.com/article/living-und er-the-french-hate-speech-laws/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:17pm

      Re: You can't be serious

      French authorities will not just be involved in censoring people who mis-speak, they'll be prosecuting them, and doing it with Facebook's assistance and sanction.

      How do you know, with the absolute certainty of an omniscient supernatural deity, that this will come to pass?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: You can't be serious

        If you had just taken the time to look at the links posted in that comment, you'd see that:

        A. Various types of speech are illegal in France
        B. penalties can be severe
        C. French authorities actively and routinely prosecute such speech-criminals

        Even Marine Le Pen, who would be President of France today if not for Emmanuel Macron, is being prosecuted for posting pictures on Twitter after losing the election.

        https://reason.com/blog/2018/09/26/the-marine-le-pen-case-shows-that-suppos

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:16pm

          The question still stands: How can you know, with the absolute certainty of a divine supernatural being, that such prosecutions will happen “with Facebook's assistance and sanction”? What can you offer in terms of irrefutable, undeniable foreknowledge that will guarantee Facebook’s future assistance in such prosecutions?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:16pm

    All censorship is always bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 3:45pm

    This could also be useful in educating Facebook in how to communicate with these regulators. If they can identify their preconceptions and figure out how to explain the realities to them in a manner they fully understand, they can then take that knowledge and bake it right into their own messaging to other regulators and even users in general.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      Maybe Taco Bell will buy out facebük annd let it just fade away. For the cost of one weeks worth of burritos sales, the world could be free from that stupid nightmare.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Boneman69 (profile), 15 Nov 2018 @ 3:18am

    Fuck the French.

    That is all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 12:34pm

    How burgoise for this multiface company to embed censors, but French? No more u'lala oogling for those pretty French women!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Close
Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.