Yesterday, Emmanuel Macron announced in a speech at the Forum on Internet Governance that the French government will establish a joint working group with Facebook. This means that Facebook will allow French regulators inside the company to examine how it combats online hate speech.
This collaboration is a result of Macron’s trial project called “smart regulation”, which he intended to extend to other tech leaders such as Google, Apple, and Amazon at the Tech for Good Summit held in May, this year.
This six-month experiment starting in early 2019 will allow representatives of the French authorities to access the tools, methods, and staff of the social network responsible for hunting racist and anti-Semitic content, homophobic or sexist and determine if Facebook’s checks on these issues could be improved.
Mr. Macron said, “It’s a first. And a very innovative experimental approach, which illustrates the cooperative method that I advocate.” According to TechCrunch, “the regulators will look at multiple steps such as how flagging works, how Facebook identifies problematic content, how Facebook decides if it’s problematic or not and what happens when Facebook takes down a post, a video or an image”. “It is unclear whether the group will have access to highly-sensitive material such as Facebook’s algorithms or codes to remove hate speech”, according to Reuters report.
Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister who is now head of Facebook’s global affairs said, “The best way to ensure that any regulation is smart and works for people is by governments, regulators and businesses working together to learn from each other and explore ideas.”
Regulators could introduce widespread regulation without consulting the company. But this process should lead to fine-grained regulation.