Éric Zemmour, “censorship” and Instagram

Thursday August 19, around noon, Eric Zemmour announced on Twitter that the social network Instagram had ” made the arbitrary decision “Of” banish »His official account.

His official account “Was deleted by mistake” and has since been restored, a spokesperson for the Facebook group, Instagram’s parent company, told AFP on Friday. The spokesperson also indicated that the polemicist had not broken any rules of the network and assured to have taken measures to prevent such an incident from happening again.

→ ANALYSIS. Éric Zemmour, danger or ally for the right?

In the rules of its ” community “, The social network specifies that it deletes” any content that contains hate speech “. Their definition refers to the rules of Facebook, of which Instagram is a subsidiary: “ We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics: ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and serious illnesses. We define an attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, offensive stereotypes, an assertion of inferiority, an expression of contempt, disgust or dismissal, an insult or a call for exclusion or segregation (…) We also protect refugees, migrants, immigrants and asylum seekers from the most serious attacks, although we allow commentary and criticism of immigration policies.

► The issue of freedom of expression

Eric Zemmour accused Instagram of censoring his political opinions: “ The Gafam [Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon et Microsoft, NDLR] have engaged in a fierce struggle against the peoples who do not want to die. They can censor me, but they can’t silence a whole people He tweeted. The association Les Amis d’Éric Zemmour took the opportunity to relaunch a petition against the “ censorship “, the ” judicial harassment ” and ” the government of judges “, Considering that their mentor was” taken to court for opinion offenses “.

The banning of Eric Zemmour’s Instagram account refers to two major democratic and ethical debates. The first is whether or not to limit freedom of expression. The idea that this is not general and absolute is present from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789: “ The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious human rights: any citizen can therefore speak, write, print freely, except to answer for the abuse of this freedom in the cases determined by the law.. “

→ ANALYSIS. Éric Zemmour, the presidential temptation

Eric Zemmour has already been convicted several times in court for inciting racial discrimination or hatred towards Muslims. He will be tried again before the Paris Criminal Court, on September 8, for having declared, on September 30, 2020, on CNews, than ” young people with an immigrant background are thieves, are murderers, are rapists, that’s all they are “.

► The challenge of social networks

The second major democratic and ethical issue, more recent, is the legitimacy of social networks to censor their users without going through justice, in particular when it is an elected official or a candidate for an election. Eric Zemmour could indeed declare his candidacy for the presidential election of 2022.

In the context of the censorship of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, in January 2021, international lawyer Jean-Claude Beaujour explained to The cross, on the one hand, that social networks are ” private companies “, With their own general conditions of use accepted by the users, thus being able” perfectly regulate, organize, sort the information that would pass through them, as long as this regulation is not contrary to a provision of public order “. And, on the other hand, that he was ” normal “Than the personal account of a political figure” be treated like the others “.

On the contrary, Arnaud Mercier, professor of information and communication sciences at the French Press Institute (Paris II Panthéon-Assas), considered that social networks have become ” free speech tools “, This posed” a problem ” than ” censorship “Can come under their sole” free will “. The debate is not over.

► Policies on Instagram

According to Harris Interactive, in 2020, Instagram was used by 34% of French Internet users over the age of 15, that is to say less than Facebook (61%) but more than SnapChat (26%) and Twitter (24%) . With a young audience, since it is one of the social networks most used by 15-24 year olds: SnapChat (70%), Instagram (69%), Facebook (60%), Twitter (41%) then TikTok (35%).

→ LARGE FORMAT. How Twitter has changed the world

Politicians use it but, unlike TikTok, rarely for original publications. Emmanuel Macron or Xavier Bertrand, for example, generally use the same content as on Twitter. Jean-Luc Mélenchon sometimes posts there outright photos of his tweets. Far from the “slice of life” usage that characterizes Instagram. Only Marine Le Pen, in addition to her identified account, revealed to Current values have an account ” ultra-personal “And closed, where she posts photos” cats and flowers “.


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