French PM outed as secret tweeter

Prime Minister François Fillon was secretly tweeting under the pseudonym fdebeauce. He is suspected of having opened an account to spy on other politicians.

François Fillon admitted on Sunday that fdebeauce was his online persona, known as a handle, on Twitter. His name comes from a hamlet called Beauce in the department of Sarthe where Fillon owns a house, daily Liberation reports.

The French PM has only tweeted a couple of times since he opened an account in October. On October 23rd, he tweeted that he was meeting the Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda. Fillon was not very active but was following political journalists and politicians online.

He was even following arch-rival Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th district in Paris.

Web users have been combing the web since December 2nd to find Fillon after UMP lawmaker Jérôme Chartier hinted he was online. “François Fillon said he was following me under a pseudonym. I’ll give a bottle of champagne to the person who finds him,” he tweeted.

A web user called smarchau, who says he’s a teacher and an IT specialist, was the first person to find the prime minister’s handle.

Responding to accusations Fillon was using his account to spy on other politicians, Industry Minister Eric Besson said “if he had used his real name, he would have been overwhelmed with requests and comments.”

“I think it’s an intelligent move to use a pseudonym to go online, to test the waters and see what people are saying.”


Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency

Twitter has appealed a French court decision that ordered it to give activists full access to all of its relevant documents on efforts to fight hate speech, lawyers and a judicial source said on Saturday.

Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone. Twitter has appealed a French court judgement requiring it to share documents with activist groups. Photo: Alastair Pike / AFP

In July, a French court ordered Twitter to grant six French anti-discrimination groups full access to all documents relating to the
company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applied to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter has appealed the decision and a hearing has been set for December 9, 2021, a judicial source told AFP, confirming information released by the groups’ lawyers.

Twitter and its lawyers declined to comment.

The July order said that Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fight homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as the offence of “condoning crimes against humanity”.

It also said Twitter must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

READ ALSO: French court orders Twitter to change smallprint over ‘abusive’ methods

The July ruling gave the San Francisco-based company two months to comply. Twitter can ask for a suspension pending the appeal.

The six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The groups campaign against homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media giants it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.