Exposing French Pigs

A blog post by Sheila Tapia, Junior Associate 

In October 2017 journalist and creator of France’s #MeToo movement Sandra Muller, tweeted the following: “#balancetonporc! . . .” (expose your pig)[1] and “[y]ou have big breasts. You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night”[2] and named Eric Brion, as the individual who used those words to sexually harass her during a work-related event.[3] When M. Brion initiated a defamation action against Mme Muller, the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) de Paris in 2019 ordered Mme Muller to retract her tweet and pay £20K in damages.[4] The TGI held that Mme Muller had exceeded the acceptable bounds of freedom of expression by personally attacking M. Brion in labeling him a sexual offender.[5] However in 2021, the Cour d’Appel De Paris (CA) reversed the 2019 TGI decision holding that “even if Eric Brion suffered by being the first man denounced under #balancetonporc, Sandra Muller should be recognized as having acted in good faith.”[6]

France has often been dubbed the “privacy capital of the world.”[7] This is because France has strict privacy laws criminalizing unauthorized publications of an individual’s private life.[8] Private life violations may include the publishing of words, images, or videos about a person’s “love life, friendships, family circumstances, leisure activities, . . . and [even] state of health.”[9]

Though French Civil Law, recognizes truth as a defense to defamation,[10] a truth defense is not admissible in defamation cases which concern a party’s privacy interests.[11]

However, did the French judiciary in Mme Muller’s case holding that she acted in good faith look past French Civil Law by recognizing some truth fueling the movement to expose perpetrators of sexual abuse and sexual harassment? If so, it just may be the case that pigs in France have now lost their right to privacy. Quel dommage![12]




[1] Sandra Muller Twitter Feed, https://twitter.com/lettreaudio/status/918810180879515653?lang=en (last visited Jan. 6, 2023) (coining the phrase “balance ton porc” which translates to ­“expose your pig”).

[2] Id.

[3] Aurelien Breeden, Crude, Yes, but Not Like Weinstein: French Man Sues MeToo Accuser, The New York Times, Jan. 18, 2018 (reporting on France’s #balancetonporc case between Eric Brion and Sandra Muller).

[4] See Tribunaux De Grande Instance [T.G.I.] [Tribunal of Great Instance] Paris, Sept. 25, 2019 18/00402 (Fr.) (holding Sandra Muller defamed Eric Brion an ordered her to take down her tweet, cover his legal fees, and pay him £20K in damages).

[5] Id.

[6] See Cour d’Appel [C.A.] [Court of Appeals] Limoges, civ., Mar. 31, 2021, 19/19081 (Fr.) (reversing the TGI 2019 decision in Brion v. Muller).

[7]See Dominique Mondoli, Legal Divisions: French versus English Libel Laws, Sage Publications (2014) (comparing English libel laws to French libel laws).

[8] See embassy of France in the U.S., French Legislation on Privacy (Dec. 2, 2007) https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article640 (last visited Nov. 18, 2022) (explaining that Art. 226-1 of the French Civil Code makes is it a crime punishable by imprisonment and fine to violate the “intimate private life” of others).

[9] Id.

[10] See Diffamation, Republique Française le site officiel de’administration française (2020), https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F32079 (last visited Nov. 17, 2022) (requiring a truth defense to be whole, perfect, complete and absolutely linked to all material elements of a defamatory statement).

[11] See Dominique Mondoli, Legal Divisions: French versus English Libel Laws, Sage Publications (2014) (comparing English libel laws to French libel laws).

[12] Quel dommage!, Collins Dictionary (2023) (translating “quell dommage” to “what a pity” or “what a shame”).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *