The government is attacking the “pack leaders”, these “hate influencers”


The mafia has its “godfathers”, the cyberstalkers their “pack leaders”. In a tweet or a…

The government is attacking the “pack leaders”, these “hate influencers”

The government is attacking the “pack leaders”, these “hate influencers”

The mafia has its “godfathers”, the cyberstalkers their “pack leaders”. In a tweet or a post, these “hate influencers” manage to unleash torrents of insults that push the victims, in the worst cases, to suicide. But after years of relative impunity, the government intends to tackle the problem, with the bill aimed at “securing and regulating the digital space” presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.

One of the 12 measures of the text (which transposes into French law European DSA and DMA regulations) specifically targets cyberbullies and in particular pack leaders. Once found guilty by a judge, the perpetrators of attacks may be banned from social networks for six months and even a year, in the event of a repeat offense. And if the authors tried to down via new accounts, the platforms will be liable to a fine of 75,000 euros.

“We must put an end to this feeling of impunity online”, explains Jean-Noël Barrot, the Minister Delegate in charge of the Digital Transition and Telecoms which carries the text. By excluding them from social networks, the law “will hit pack leaders where it hurts, deprive them of their sounding board by confiscating their notoriety”, according to the minister.

From Booba to Alain Soral

And for good reason: the “pack leaders” are often “well-known personalities who are followed by an already more or less hateful community”, explains Justine Atlan, general manager of the e-Enfance ociation. For example, rapper Booba (6.1 million Twitter followers) was charged for having initiated a movement of hatred against Magali Berdah, the “popess of influencers” with whom he has been in conflict for more than a year.

In another genre, the far-right essayist Alain Soral is also a pack leader. Even though he has been banned from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for several years, the writer continues to exert influence through numerous support groups.

Alongside these well-identified people, each Internet user can however become, sometimes in spite of himself, a “pack leader”, when his message is retweeted or reposted on a very large scale. As part of the Mila case, this teenager hared in 2020, hatred and death threats had been made by completely anonymous people. Since then, 11 people have been given suspended prison sentences ranging from four months… to two years.

Six magistrates at the “digital prosecutor’s office”

“That is why the social media ban will send a signal. The perpetrators of hatred will think twice before posting a message,” hopes Sophie Elizeon, the Interministerial Delegate for the Fight against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Anti-LGBT Hatred (DILCRAH).

The application of the measure will however depend on the good cooperation of the platforms. But also means of justice. Since 2021, the Paris Court of Justice has a “digital national prosecutor’s office” which deals with the most serious cases of cyberbullying. But with only 6 magistrates (compared to 19 for the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, for example), its resources appear limited in the face of cases of cyberbullying.

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