France will toughen rules on hate speech to ensure social media giants do more to remove racist and anti-Semitic content from Internet, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Monday.
The announcement comes as the 28 European Union countries work on rules that would compel Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google to be more proactive in filtering and weeding out hate speech on their platforms.
"These days a newspaper director is criminally responsible if hateful comments are posted on its website but if you run a social network anything goes," Philippe said in a speech on France's policy on racism.
"Nobody is going to convince me that the social networks live in space. What gets published and circulated in France is published and circulated in France and must answer to the laws of the French republic."
Philippe said France would tighten up its own rules pending progress at EU level, but did not elaborate on when or how.
The man credited with inventing the worldwide web, British computer scientists, Tim Berners-Lee, called in a public letter last week for powerful internet platforms and social media companies to be regulated to prevent the internet from being "weaponised" on a massive scale.
"In recent years, we've seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections and criminals steal troves of personal data," he said in an open letter published on the 29th anniversary of the creation of the web.
© Thomson Reuters 2018