Hate content on social media fuels French rise in anti-Semitism reports

FEB 28, 2024 LISTEN

Reports of anti-Semisitm in France rose sharply in 2023, with Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin heaping criticism on social media sites whose owners do little to moderate hateful content.

Disclosing the worrying uptick on Tuesday before the Senate, Darmanin deplored a “particularly dramatic” year linked to the war between Israel and Hamas.

The government's Pharos portal, which allows harmful content to be reported online, in 2023 received 211,543 reports compared to 175,924 th year prior.

This was 90 percent due to anti-Semitic content, Darmanin said – adding: "We cannot make the big platforms listen to reason."

Speaking to the Senate's Law Committee, Darmanin said the X platform (formerly Twitter) posed a significant problem – particularly because there was “much less moderation” under new owner Elon Musk.

Regulatory 'failure'

He lamented the absence of an equivalent to the Arcom media regulator for social media, expressing the need for effective measures against propaganda dissemination.

Three-quarters of content that was either anti-Semitic or an “apology of terrorism” has been found on Twitter, Darmanin said.

More than 12,000 reports were in connection with the crisis in the Middle East – a number that is without prededent.

Last year, anti-Christian acts fell by 7 percent to 854, while anti-Muslim acts increased by 29 percent to 242.

The protection of approximately 4,500 religious sites such as synagogues, schools and churches cost the state nearly €6 million last year – with Jewish and Christian sites receiving the majority of the funds.

In 2024, funding for the protection of Muslim sites is set to double to nearly €1.14 million.

Darmanin said 79 foreigners involved in promoting terrorism or inciting hatred had been expelled from France.