France cracks down on illegal Facebook posts

France cracks down on illegal Facebook posts
Photo: AFP
Data released by Facebook this week shows that there's been a meteoric rise in the amount of posts France blocks. The country is also ranked fourth in the world for the number of government requests made for info on users.

The data was part of Facebook’s annual Government Requests Report, which lists the number of demands for information on Facebook users from each country.

In the first half of 2015 France, made 2,520 requests for data from 2,847 different users, as each demand can be for information from several accounts.

However, Facebook supplied the requested information in 42.5 percent of cases, meaning that over half were unjustified in the eyes of the social media giant.

That reflects a steep rise on the same period in 2014, when France made 1,547 requests for information.

The USA was the country that made the most requests for users’ information, with 17,577 applications for data on 26,579 accounts.

The UK made 3,384 requests for info on 4,489 users while in Germany the number was less than France  – 2,344 requests for information on 2,776 users.

Worldwide there were 41, 214 requests for data about Facebook users in the first six months of 2015, an 18 percent rise on the previous year.

Facebook says the vast majority of applications “relate to criminal cases such as robberies and kidnappings” and the social network says it has “strict processes in place to handle these government requests”.

Huge rise in amount of posts France blocks

When it comes to content being blocked in each country, France saw a mammoth rise in the first half of 2015.

In the second half of 2014, France asked for just 13 items of content to be removed because they were judged illegal, and in the six months previous to that it blocked only 22 posts.

But in the first half of 2015 that figure has risen to 295, meaning France was ranked third in the world..

Most of the content France asks to be blocked relates to the crimes of Holocaust denial, denial of crimes against humanity or a new law that has made it a criminal offence to glorify terrorism.

The steep rise in the amount of blocked content in France is believed to be linked to January’s Paris terror attacks and the fact that there were many reports of people taking to social media to express support for the terrorists.

Only India (15,155) and Turkey (4,496) had more illegal content blocked than France over the same period.

These figures don't include the vast amount of posts that Facebook blocks itself with the help of users and without the intervention of states.

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