New French Prime Minister Opposes Internet Anonymity, Compares Social Networks to Vichy France

Man typing on a laptop computer. Science Photo Library / ABO
Science Photo Library/ABO/AFP

Newly-appointed French prime minister Jean Castex has made it clear that he is no fan of anonymity on the Internet, claiming that it distorts political debates online.

Prime Minister Castex labelled anonymity as  “something shocking” and went on to say: “You can call someone all kinds of names, accuse them of all kinds of vices, by hiding behind pseudonyms. In these conditions, social networks are the Vichy regime: nobody knows who it is!”

He went on to hint, during an interview with Le Parisien, that he would be working on counteracting anonymity online, saying: “I am for freedom of expression, but if we hide, the conditions of the debate are distorted. This is a subject that we will have to take up.”

Castex said he would like to see “a little” regulation for social media, but claimed that such policy was not a top priority, claiming that unemployment and economic recovery in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus were his chief concerns.

French president Emmanuel Macron has been clear in the past that he would like to see more regulation of social media, particularly when it comes to so-called hate speech online.

Last year, Macron even floated the idea that those convicted of hate speech crimes could be banned from using social media networks permanently, comparing such a move to banning football hooligans from football matches.

Former Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi said that social media companies could comply with bans by revealing user details.

“It is no longer acceptable today that platforms that have the means to help justice and the police to identify the person who has committed an offence online take several weeks, even months, before giving the information,” he said.

In July of last year, the French parliament passed legislation that forces social media companies to remove hate speech posts within 24 hours or face large fines.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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