Facebook Inc seems to be getting proficient at attracting lawsuits in Europe as much as its American counterparts such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Microsoft Corporation . Two French anti-discrimination and anti-racism organizations-Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) and SOS Racisme-have sued the Facebook along with Twitter Inc and YouTube.
The three companies are being accused of refusing to remove anti-semitic, racist, homophobic content and Holocaust denial content. This follows a few weeks of research by the two organizations, aided in part by gay rights outfit SOS homophobie, of about 586 posts.
Facebook Scored Better with 34 Percent Score
The organizations claim that Twitter deleted only 4 percent of the flagged posts; while Facebook deleted 34 percent and YouTube about 7 percent.
Facebook and its co-defendants are being sued for failure to stick to French law that requires web hosts to erase illicit content within a reasonable period of time. They are also required to notify authorities.
The two rights organizations hope their case will highlight how social media users can act as moderators. They also hope to inspire a global analysis of the way the social media sites respond to discriminatory content.
Google Readies itself for Euro Fine
Meanwhile, Google executives are a worried lot after news leaked that the European Commission is considering slapping the company with its biggest fine in history. The Commission is thought to be thinking of a fine of €3bn, citing its abuse of is dominant position. The figure is nearly half of Google’s European income.
The fine, which dwarfs the €1.1bn fine levied on Intel Corporation in 2009, marks the end of a seven-year investigation. Intel was found guilty of bribing OEMs to steer clear of rival AMD chips. The investigation started in 2010 and continued until 2012. Google was found to have developed its search results page into a neural platform that also promoted its own products. It was found culpable of undermining its competitors by ranking them lower in its search results page.
The EU is expected to announce the fine shortly before it breaks for the summer holidays, specifically next month. However, it warned it is yet to decide on how much Google should pay. The maximum figure is expected to hit about €6.6bn, which is a tenth of the company’s revenues.
Google is also facing another investigation into whether it misuses its Android software to crush its competition. It could also be slapped with additional charges of using its specialized web search platforms in areas such as maps and travel information to stifle its rivals.
Delaying Tactics May Prove Costly for Google
Some of the issues that will influence the outcome of the case is the fact that Google actively abused its monopoly status for a long time. This involves tweaking its search algorithm to make life difficult for its competitors. The fact that it has employed delaying tactics during the investigation is likely to count against it.
Besides being slapped with a monumental fine, Google risks a total ban from further alterations of algorithms aimed at favoring itself. The tech giant has always strongly resisted any attempts to ban it from tweaking its algorithms, the core of its business. It has instead decided to please authorities with an offer to redesign search engine results, a futile attempt.
EU former Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia agreed to such offers and dropped formal charges. However, his replacement Ms Margrethe Vestager wants nothing to do with that.
Vestager’s fine means Google’s defense claim that the fact that eBay and Amazon are doing well is a sign of thriving competition is a flat argument. Google can appeal the case at the European Court of Justice if it feels aggrieved by the fine.