Reporters Without Borders announced the suit—filed with the public prosecutor in Paris—this week with a statement in which the social media platform is alleged to have engaged in “deceptive commercial practices” centered on its stated policies of providing users “a safe and error-free” experience. Those promises, the organization said, are contradicted by what they have determined as the “large-scale proliferation” of hate speech and false information.
“To condemn this large-scale, unprecedented phenomenon, RSF filed a lawsuit in France, where consumer law is especially well suited to deal with the issue and where Facebook has a huge number of consumers—38 million overall users, including 24 million who use it every day,” a Reporters Without Borders rep said in a news release about the suit, which specifically concerns Facebook France and Facebook Ireland, on Tuesday. “As Facebook’s terms of service are the same all over the world, a court ruling in France on its deceptive practices has the potential for a global impact. RSF is considering filing similar lawsuits in other countries.”
Multiple reports from legal officers on hate speech and disinformation are included in the filing.
Complex has reached out to reps for both Facebook and Reporters Without Borders for additional comment on this week’s lawsuit.
Of course, Facebook has been criticized for these exact things in the past. Amid the pandemic, for example, many have argued the site has served as a breeding ground for dangerously misleading—or even outright false—information on COVID-19 vaccines.
Earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a statement in support of vaccines, noting they are indeed “safe” and “they work.” The site also recently unveiled a number of newly implemented measures aimed at limiting the spread of potentially harmful pandemic-related content.