Facebook will allow French regulators to "embed" inside the company to examine how it combats online hate speech.

It is the first time the tech giant has opened its doors in such a way.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that from January his administration would send a small team of senior civil servants to the company for six months to verify Facebook's goodwill and determine whether its checks on racist, sexist or hate-fuelled speech could be improved.

"It's a first," Mr Macron told the annual Internet Governance Forum in Paris.

"I'm delighted by this very innovative experimental approach," he said.

The trial project is an example of what Mr Macron has called "smart regulation", something he wants to extend to other tech leaders such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

The move follows a meeting with Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg in May, when Mr Macron invited the CEOs of some of the biggest tech firms to Paris, telling them they should work for the common good.

The officials may be seconded from the telecoms regulator and the interior and justice ministries, a government source said.

Facebook said the selection was up to the French presidency.

It is unclear whether the group would have access to highly-sensitive material such as Facebook's algorithms or codes to remove hate speech.

It could travel to Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin and global base in Menlo Park, California if necessary, the company said. 

"The best way to ensure that any regulation is smart and works for people is by governments, regulators and businesses working together to learn from each other and explore ideas,"Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister who is now head of Facebook's global affairs, said in a statement.

France's use of embedded regulators is modelled on what happens in its banking and nuclear industries.