France imposes 1-hour deadline on some social media censorship on pain of massive fines

A new law has been passed in France that allows it to impose draconian punishments on social media companies that fail to take down some content within 60 minutes.

The news comes courtesy of Reuters, which reports: ‘online content providers will have to remove paedophile and terrorism-related content from their platforms within the hour or face a fine of up to 4% of their global revenue.’ Other content that is deemed ‘manifestly illicit’ by whoever makes these decisions will have to be taken down within 24 hours.

“People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” said Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, apparently oblivious to the fact that the law largest the platforms, not their users. It’s not clear whether the responsibility for identifying content that crosses this like will be the responsibility of the platforms too, but if it is, they will need to be provided with a comprehensive censorship manual if they’re expected to comply.

The matter of social media censorship is a very tricky one and nobody is saying illegal content should be allowed to remain in the public domain, but this looks like a very clumsy approach by the French. There are many alternatives to the imposition of massive fines and this smacks of yet another cash grab by the French state on the US tech sector.