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France wants to make Google and Facebook accountable for hate speech

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President Francois Hollande will present a draft law next month

Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

The French government announced today a plan to hold web companies accountable for any extremist messages they may host, Bloomberg reports. French president Francois Hollande wants to introduce a law that would make companies like Google and Facebook "accomplices" in crimes of hate speech if users post content the government deems extremist.

In an announcement today, Hollande said, "We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible, and that sanctions can be taken."

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve plans to travel to the US to discuss this proposal with the heads of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter. The president will present a draft law next month.

The president will present a draft law next month

This announcement is largely a reaction to the recent terror attacks at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It follows a string of recent anti-terror proposals by the country, including stronger social media surveillance. The bullish rhetoric employed by French politicians in response to the tragedy has raised fears of a European Patriot Act, much like US legislation immediately following the September 11th attacks.

It remains to be seen how exactly the boundaries of what constitutes an "extremist" message will be set, and to what extent the web companies will be involved.