France Wants To Kick Bullies Off Of Facebook

France's education minister and Facebook have reached an agreement to close the accounts of anyone accused of bullying through Facebook. But how will they enforce it?

The intentions are noble, but we’re not sure about the practicality here: The Education Minister in France, Luc Chatel, has announced that the nation will begin to close the Facebook accounts of French cyberbullies.

The initiative is supported — and would have to be enforced — by the social network itself.

“The solution is simple. We will single out systematically the students that have bullied through this network, and their accounts will be closed,” Chatel announced during his closing remarks at a conference dedicated to combating student bullying.

“For the more serious cases,” he continued, “we will ensure that the victim’s relatives have a system to file complaints. This will be made available through a partnership with the Central Office dedicated to fight cyber-crimes.”

Facebook issues a statement that celebrated the agreement: “The initiative will give people in France an additional resources [to denounce abuse], such as Facebook’s Security Center, as well as our system to report abusive behavior through different links on the site.”

How exactly either Facebook or the French judicial system will weed out what defines cyberbullying, or how the measure will be enforced remains to be seen. For example, will those accounts be deactivated or permanently deleted? And how can they make sure the bully can’t sign up for another Facebook account the day after losing his?

In America, Facebook has recently supported an anti-bullying bill in Texas, and Barack and Michelle Obama talked against bullying via Facebook Livestream in March.

Facebook has also recently added many more links to report abusive content or behavior, in an effort to make those resources visible and accessible to more casual users. As a necessary aside, you can find the answer to all sorts of questions about how to report abuse via Facebook on this page.

We think France has the noblest of intentions, but wonder how practical this will be.

Readers, what do you think about France’s anti-bullying plans, and whether this can actually be policed?