The press freedom watchdog said Facebook had committed “deceptive business practices”.
RSF says the “massive proliferation” of hate messages and fake news on Facebook violates the platform’s commitments to online users.
In a statement, RSF said the complaint, filed Monday with the Paris prosecutor’s office, was based on “the obvious contradiction between the social network’s commitments to consumers and the reality of its operations”.
Euronews contacted Facebook for a response to the complaint, which targeted the company’s subsidiaries in France and Ireland.
“We have zero tolerance for any harmful content on our platforms and we are investing heavily to tackle hate speech and disinformation,” a spokesperson said.
In their terms of service, Facebook states that users are prohibited from sharing anything that is “illegal, deceptive, discriminatory or fraudulent”.
“We want Facebook to be a place where people feel safe and welcome to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas,” the spokesperson continued.
“We will exercise professional diligence in providing our products and services to you and in maintaining a safe, secure and error-free environment. ”
The company has also stepped up efforts to tackle the spread of misinformation online during the COVID-19 pandemic and says it has removed 12 million pieces of content containing misinformation about the coronavirus.
But RSF claimed that Facebook’s commitments to its users were “largely based on false allegations.”
The complaint also alleged that Facebook has become “the main focus” of baseless conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines in French-speaking communities.
RSF also cited a 2020 UNESCO report which identified Facebook as the “least safe” main platform to combat violence against women.
Other evidence provided by RSF includes death threats against Charlie Hebdo journalists and the publication of videos such as the documentary “Hold Up”, accused of relaying conspiracy theories.
According to the NGO, Facebook’s inability to fight against the spread of hatred and disinformation online constitutes a “deceptive commercial practice” within the meaning of the French consumer code, an offense punishable by a fine of “up to ‘to 10% of the average annual turnover ”.
RSF says it has filed a complaint in France because the country’s consumer law is particularly well suited, but added that it was considering taking additional measures.
Facebook did not provide further comments on the legal process, but said it has “tripled” the size of its safety and security team in recent years.
“Last month, we also introduced special protections for the personal Facebook profiles of journalists in France and other European countries,” a spokesperson said.
“Our app will never be perfect, but while no one can completely eliminate disinformation and hate speech from the internet, we continue to use research, experts and technology to address it in the most comprehensive and most comprehensive way. effective possible. ”