Macron accused of Authoritarianism after Threatening to Block Social Media

World » EU | July 6, 2023, Thursday // 10:25
Bulgaria: Macron accused of Authoritarianism after Threatening to Block Social Media

Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism after threatening social media with a shutdown as a way to stop the spread of violence during the unrest in France, the Guardian reported.

However, representatives of the Elysee Palace and ministers insisted that the president was not considering a "general shutdown" but an "episodic and temporary" interruption.

The president's comments came after ministers accused young people using social media such as Snapchat and TikTok of organizing and encouraging riots and violence following the fatal shooting of a teenager during a police check in a Paris suburb last week.

"We have to think about how young people use social media, in the family, at school, what prohibitions there should be... and when things get out of control, we may have to regulate them or stop them," Macron said on Tuesday at a meeting with more than 250 mayors whose municipalities were affected by the violence.

"First of all, this should definitely not be done in the heat of events, and I'm glad it didn't have to be. But I think this is a real debate that we should have calmly," added Macron.

Critics say considering such measures would put France alongside authoritarian countries such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

A source at the Elysee Palace insisted that Macron "at no time said that he envisioned a blackout in the sense of a total blackout." The president made it clear he wanted a "calm and thoughtful" debate about the role of social media in the recent unrest, the source said.

"The president thinks we need to consider the use of social media and what basis there might be for possible bans or administrative measures."

Speaking after a ministerial meeting on Wednesday, government spokesman Olivier Veran said a cross-party commission would be set up to consider amending a cybersecurity law currently going through parliament.

Veran noted that the government has made a "firm request" to the platforms to take down material promoting violence as quickly as possible and to remove the anonymity of those who may violate the law. "A young person needs to know that he can't sit behind his screen and write or organize or do whatever he wants. There is no such thing as anonymity in relation to crime. You need to understand that there can be consequences and the consequences can lead to punishment," Veran added.

Asked if this meant a social media shutdown, Veran elaborated: "It could be something like a feature shutdown, like geolocation."

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Tags: Macron, social media, France, president

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