Have I Got (Fake) News For You: Hogan Lovells represents Twitter in First ‘Fake News’ Case

July 9, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Hogan Lovells represented Twitter’s French arm in the first ever “fake news” case which concerned “yellow vest” events in France.

What does this mean?

The claim was brought by Marie-Pierre Vieu (a French Member of the European Parliament) and Pierre Ouzoulias (a French Senator) who were concerned that a ‘fake’ tweet would have negatively affected their campaign.

Twitter won the case as it was ruled that (i) the wrong entity was sued (Twitter International Company provides services to France) and (ii) the tweet may have been exaggerated, but it was factual. For the post to be removed, it would have to be proved that the tweet had been “disseminated artificially or in an automated manner” and that there was an “obvious risk that the vote would be altered”. The requirements to remove the tweet were not met in this case.

What's the big picture effect?

This comes off the back of the passing of a new French law, created by President Emmanuel Macron, which gives judges the power to order the immediate removal of ‘fake news’ during election campaigns. Appeals to judges are available from three months before the election and can be made by candidates and all political parties. This law was passed in an attempt to crack down on ‘fake news’ spreading. However, it has not been met positively as it has been argued that it may be a form of censorship.

As the first case of its kind, it has brought the new ‘fake news’ law to everyone’s attention and could potentially lead to other cases of a similar nature coming forward. However, this case has proved to those who wish to bring a fake news claim in the future that the requirements are quite strict. 

With France as a testing bed, fake news laws could also start making their way to other countries that are wishing to prevent the spread of fake news, perhaps even beyond the political sphere. For law firms, a change in law could mark the start of a new type of case, as it gives rise to a new cause of action. With the likelihood of most of the claims being based on social media posts, the change would push the legal sphere to become markedly more tech-facing.

Do you think we’ll see fake news laws in the UK soon?

Report written by Harina Chandhok

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