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Samuel Paty: Pressure grows on social networks over hate speech and violent content

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Demonstrations around France have called for support of freedom of speech and to pay tribute to French history teacher, Samuel Paty, who was beheaded near Paris on Friday.
Demonstrations around France have called for support of freedom of speech and to pay tribute to French history teacher, Samuel Paty, who was beheaded near Paris on Friday.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Bob Edme
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In the aftermath of the murder of French history teacher Samuel Paty, pressure has been mounting on social media platforms.

On Tuesday, representatives from some of the largest tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, were summoned to meet France's home affairs minister.

It comes as the role of social media platforms in the attack has been called into question, with French citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa, urging tech to take more responsibility.

"Things started on social media and ended on social media," government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said in a televised interview.

Attal stressed that Paty had faced a "public lynching" on social media in the lead-up to the murder.

Representatives from social media giants met with French Ministers on Tuesday

The father of a student at the school first shared a video on Facebook on October 8, critical of Paty. The video then spread on messaging forums such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

The 18-year-old suspect who killed Paty also posted images of his body on Twitter before being shot by police. His account was suspended by Twitter and uploads of the images removed.

Platforms should adopt an "internet by design" approach, Philippe Coen, founder of the NGO Respect Zone, told Euronews in an interview.

"A single button to understand the rules of respect online is missing," Coen said.

Respect Zone has advocated for a "notice of use" when signing up to a platform - providing users with the basics to avoid harming others online.

Philippe Coen also attached particular importance to younger users, saying that on average children start signing up to apps between the ages of nine and 12 in Europe.

A key debate has also opened up in recent days, not only about moderation rules but also how platforms implement them.

Coen told Euronews that the profession of moderators, those who decide what should remain online and what should not, should be elevated with increased training - similar to the role of a data protection officer in the European Union.

"Why has there been such a great effort in privacy and not in that of respect online?" Coen told Euronews.

In May, the French parliament passed a law aimed at curbing hateful content. Platforms would have had to remove terrorist content within one hour and if they failed to do so, they could have faced fines of up to 4 per cent of annual turnover.

The constitutional court strapped the draft law, with three elements of the law still in consideration.

Click on the player above as Seana Davis in The Cube details more.