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«We can't cope» : Morocco struggles to address harmful social media content

The Moroccan government faces limitations in addressing «harmful social media content» that appears daily online, Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi admitted during a session in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi. / Ph. DR
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Social media concerns took center stage during the weekly oral question session at the House of Representatives on Monday, May 13th. Bahija Simou, MP for the RNI (government majority), warned against the «dangers to Moroccan identity and values, and especially to young people» posed by messages shared on social media. She called on Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch to take urgent action against these threats.

In his response, the Minister of Justice, Abdellatif Ouahbi, acknowledged «Morocco's limitations» in dealing with these social media platforms whose «decisions are made in the United States and China». He acknowledged the challenge with a resigned remark, «May God have mercy on our weakness».

«Facebook's and Tiktok's budgets exceed Morocco's», the minister asserted. «We can't simply ban these platforms because the decision doesn't lie with us. These aren't small businesses; we're facing large international corporations. Antagonizing them would mean confronting the United States, France, Germany... They have vested interests in these social networks, using them to advertise (...) their languages and ideologies», he stressed.

From weakness to pragmatism

Responding to calls from MPs urging the ban or regulation of Facebook and Tiktok content, the Justice Minister offered a more realistic perspective. «The situation is complex and intertwined with a capitalist system that protects itself. We are a state within an international system that imposes commitments and restrictions on us», he argued.

«We are forced to operate within this framework. Shutting down these platforms would likely provoke retaliation», he explained. The Minister of Justice, Abdellatif Ouahbi, cited Moroccan aeronautical exports and foreign investment among the sectors that could be affected by the «international system» if Morocco closed down or regulated these digital platforms.

After this admission of limitations, towards the end of his speech, the Minister commended «the efforts made by the National Security and other state services, who work tirelessly. They've done a great job». Ouahbi praised in particular «the speed» with which these services identify the authors of these messages. «We are one of the few countries in the world considered advanced in the fight against these digital attacks», he said.

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