Skip to content

Public Comments Portal

Politician's comments on demographic changes

Please note: the public comment window for this case is open for 14 days, closing at  23:59 your local time on Tuesday 12 December.

Case description

In July 2023, a user posted a video on Facebook in which French politician Éric Zemmour is interviewed about demographic changes in Europe and Africa. The user who posted the video is an administrator for Zemmour’s official, verified Facebook page, which has about 300,000 followers. A candidate in the 2022 French presidential election, Zemmour won around 7% of the votes in the first round, according to official results, but did not advance any further. He has been found guilty of “inciting discrimination and religious hatred” in France, a conviction that was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.

In the video, Zemmour claims the European population has stayed roughly the same since the beginning of the 20th century, while the African population has increased significantly, “so the power balance has shifted.” The caption in French repeats the claims in the video, stating that “when there were four Europeans for one African, [Europe] colonized Africa,” and now “there are four Africans for one European and Africa colonizes Europe.” The content was viewed about 20,000 times and had fewer than 1,000 reactions, the majority of which were “likes,” followed by “love.”

Under its Hate Speech policy, Meta removes direct attacks against people on the basis of protected characteristics, including race, ethnicity, national origin and religious affiliation. Refugees, migrants, immigrants and asylum seekers are protected against “the most severe attacks,” although Meta allows “commentary and criticism of immigration policies.”

The content in this case was reported twice under the Hate Speech policy. Meta’s automated systems closed both reports and the video was left up on Facebook. The first user who reported the content appealed Meta’s decision but following human review on the same day, the company decided it was correct to leave up the video. The same user then appealed Meta’s decision to the Board. In their statement, they described the content as “fake news.” After the Board selected the case, Meta confirmed that its original decision was correct and explained that, in its view, Zemmour’s claims did not violate the Hate Speech policy because they do not contain an attack on a protected group. The company does not consider the claim that one group is “colonizing” a place to be an attack “so long as it does not amount to a call for exclusion.”

The Board selected this case because of the increasing salience of policies toward immigration and migrants in elections around the world, and the attendant rise of anti-migrant content around election periods, including such claims as the “Great Replacement.” The “Great Replacement” is a claim that white European populations are being demographically replaced by non-white peoples. This case falls within the Board’s strategic priorities of Hate Speech Against Marginalized Groups and Elections and Civic Space.

Share your thoughts

The Board would appreciate public comments that address: 

  • Whether the post should be understood as a direct attack on the basis of protected characteristics, in violation of Meta’s Hate Speech policies, or instead as commentary on immigration policy and related social trends.

  • The social and political context of discussions about immigration in France.
  • Views on how Meta’s Hate Speech policies comport with its human rights responsibilities, and whether any changes should be considered.
  • Whether and how the company’s content moderation around its Hate Speech and other applicable policies should be affected by who posts the content, specifically high-profile users such as politicians.
  • Views on how Meta should distinguish “commentary and criticism of immigration policies” from direct attacks on people based on protected characteristics, especially during election periods.
What do I need to submit a public comment?

The Oversight Board will share updates when a case and policy has been selected by the Board Members to review. As cases are assigned to panels, the Oversight Board will post a brief, anonymized description of the cases under review on the Oversight Board website. For up to 21 days after this posting, individuals and organization have an opportunity to share their insights. For expedited cases, this timeframe will be shortened.

The case descriptions are based on the information provided to the Board by users and Facebook as part of the appeals process, and are being posted before panels begin deliberation to provide time for public comment. As such, they reflect neither the Board’s assessment of the case, nor the full array of policy issues that a panel might consider to be implicated by the case. A panel may decide to post additional information relating to the case, with an updated deadline for submission of comments.

To protect privacy and security, the comments will only be viewed by the Oversight Board and as detailed in the Oversight Board's Operational Privacy Notice. Anyone submitting comments will have an opportunity to provide consent to the Oversight Board to publish or attribute their comments publicly, as well as allow the Oversight Board to follow up with them regarding the content of their comments. The Oversight Board expects to publish comments in an appendix to each case decision, provided the comments meet the guidelines and the commenter has consented to the publication.  

Submissions should meet the following requirements:

  • Received within the stated deadline, set fourteen days from the date of publication of the case summary.
  • Written in English or the languages identified by the Board in the portal as acceptable languages to submit public comments for the relevant case.
  • No more than 5 pages in PDF, Word or .txt format, Times New Roman 12pt font.
  • Must respond to the issues identified by the Oversight Board.
  • Content which is irrelevant, abusive, or disrespectful of the human and fundamental rights of any person or group of persons, or otherwise in breach of the Oversight Board Terms for Public Comment, may not be considered.
  • In addition, please do not submit information or comments that contains your Special Category Data (choosing to do so means that you consent to us using your Special Category Data). You must not provide the Special Category Data of any third party.
  • For more information, including how to withdraw consent, please see the Oversight Board Operational Privacy Notice.

The Oversight Board expects to receive a large volume of submissions and will review this initial process once the Oversight Board has a better understanding of needs and resources. The panels reviewing cases will consider submissions at their sole discretion, and do not expect to be able to consider every submission in their deliberations.

Acceptable languages to submit public comments
For this case, we accept public comments in French and English.
What is the deadline to submit a public comment for this case?
23:59 your local time on Tuesday 12 December.
Why are public comments important and what are they used for?

The Oversight Board is committed to bringing diverse perspectives from third parties into our case and policy review process. To that end, the Oversight Board has established a public comment process to invite subject matter experts and interested groups to share relevant research and information that may help the Oversight Board deliberate specific cases. This input will allow Board Members to tap into more knowledge, expertise and context covering a variety of issues and geographies.