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Facebook has agreed to work with French authorities to help them understand how it works to combat hate speech, offering the clearest sign yet of its willingness to work with government regulators.

The platform will allow representatives from the French government to review how it monitors racist, sexist or hateful content, as the country's president Emmanuel Macron looks to observe whether the current processes in place could be improved. 

From January next year, a small team of senior civil servants will be embedded into Facebook for six months as part of the move.

"It's a first," Macron said, speaking at the annual Internet Governance Forum in Paris. "I'm delighted by this very innovative experimental approach It's an experiment, but a very important first step in my view."

It's understood the trial is stepping stone towards what Macron has called "smart regulation" which he is looking to extend to other tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon.

"We are grateful to the French Government for its leadership on this co-regulatory approach and look forward to working together over the next months," Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister who is now head of Facebook's global affairs, said in a statement.

The unprecedented move marks the first time the notoriously cautious tech company has opened its doors to let a government see how it monitors offensive content. 

Facebook – which insists it is not a media company –  has its own set of standards on what is forbidden on its platform, for instance, it doesn't allow posts that glorify violence or discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity.

However, over the past few years, the company's moderation policies have been called into question; both around the spread of fake news and misinformation, and the failings of its review system

Facebook relies on a mixture of AI and the human touch to police content on its platform. It has hired tens of thousands of staff to help enforce its moderation rules more consistently.