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French Muslim group to sue Facebook and YouTube over New Zealand massacre video

A French Muslim group announced on Monday that it is suing internet giants Facebook and YouTube for allowing the broadcast of a live video by the man who carried out the New Zealand mosque massacre.

French Muslim group to sue Facebook and YouTube over New Zealand massacre video
Police in Christchurch shortly after the deadly attack on a mosque. Photo: AFP

The French Council of the Muslim Faith said it was suing the French branches of the two tech giants for “broadcasting a message with violent content abetting terrorism, or of a  nature likely to seriously violate human dignity and liable to be seen by a minor,” according to the complaint, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

In France, such acts can be punished by three years' imprisonment and a €75,000 fine.

Facebook said it “quickly” removed the live video showing the killing of 50 people by a white supremacist in twin mosque attacks in Christchurch on March 15.

But the livestream lasting 17 minutes was shared extensively on YouTube and Twitter, and internet platforms had to scramble to remove videos being reposted of the gruesome scene.

 

(Facebook has said it worked quickly to remove video of the shooting in Christchurch. Photo: AFP)

 

The CFCM, which represents several million Muslims in France, said it took Facebook 29 minutes after the beginning of the broadcast to take it down.

Major internet platforms have pledged to crack down on the sharing of violent images and other inappropriate content through automated systems and human monitoring, but critics say this is not working.

Internet platforms have cooperated to develop technology that filters child pornography, but have stopped short of joining forces on violent content.

A US congressional panel last week called on top executives from Facebook and YouTube, as well as Microsoft and Twitter, to explain the online proliferation of the “horrific” New Zealand video.

The panel, the House Committee on Homeland Security, said it was “critically important” to filter the kind of violent images seen in the video.

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FACEBOOK

Facebook agrees with France to pay €106 million in back taxes

US social media giant Facebook on Monday said it had agreed with the French government to pay €106 million in back taxes for its French operations over a 10-year period from 2009, and to pay 50 percent more tax in the current year.

Facebook agrees with France to pay €106 million in back taxes
Many of the US digital giants have their EU headquarters in low-tax-regime countries. Photo: AFP

“We take our tax obligations seriously, pay the taxes we owe in all the markets in which we operate and work closely with tax administrations around the world to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws and resolve any disputes,” a Facebook France spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement said that since 2018, Facebook changed its sales structure so that “income from advertisers supported by our teams in France is registered in this country”.

“This year we are paying €8.46 million in income tax, an increase of almost 50 percent compared to last year,” it said. 

“We have also entered into an agreement with the tax authorities covering the years 2009-2018, under which we will make a payment of €106 million.”

The payment by American digital giants of tax on revenues in the country in which they are accrued has been the subject of a longstanding conflict between France and the United States. 

Big EU countries say the so-called GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – are unfairly exploiting tax rules that let them declare profits in low-tax havens, depriving governments of a fair share of their fiscal payments.

Many of the US digital giants have their EU headquarters in low-tax-regime countries. 

The dispute between France and the United States on the digital giants' tax has escalated to the extent that the United States in July unveiled heavy import duties on France.

The office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer found France's digital services tax was discriminatory and “unfairly targets US digital technology companies,” and said it would impose punitive duties of 25 percent on $1.3 billion worth of French products.

But it will hold off on collecting the fees to allow time for the dispute to be resolved.

READ ALSO: Trump's US wine tariffs 'threaten 100,000 jobs in French countryside'

 

In the meantime, France, Britain, Spain, Italy and others have imposed taxes on the largest digital companies.

US officials have slammed these moves as discriminating against American firms, and say any new levies should come only as part of a broader overhaul of international tax rules.

In January, 137 countries agreed to negotiate a deal on how to tax tech multinationals by the end of 2020, under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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