Twitter Hands Over Info On Anti-Semitic Tweets In France
In a rare move, Twitter announced this week that it would hand over data that could identify users who tweeted anti-Semitic remarks in France last year. The microblogging site fought demands in court to hand over the data, but lost both the original case and an appeal recently.
In October 2012, racist comments with the hashtags UnBonJuif (“A good Jew”) and UnMortJuif (“A dead Jew”) began circulating on the French-facing version of Twitter. When the company learned, they deleted the tweets.
But the French Union of Jewish Students sued for the company to release the names of the users who tweeted the comments, so that the users could be investigated under France’s strict anti-hate speech and anti-Holocaust denial laws. Twitter contested the move in court, and lost. The Jewish organization also eventually sued Twitter in civil court for the company’s initial resistance, and has announced plans to sue Twitter’s CEO.
The Guardian newspaper points out that Twitter has already faced similar legal demands. The company struggled with US subpoenas over Twitter accounts related to Wikileaks, and is currently fighting a lawsuit to disclose information about an Occupy Wall Street protester.
In Germany, the company agreed to block the account of a banned neo-Nazi group.
Perhaps not coincidentally, free speech and hate speech laws differ greatly in the US and in Europe, especially with regards to anti-Semitism: the US tends to favor free speech short of inciting violence, while European nations aggressively define and prosecute hate speech.
What do you think of Twitter’s lawsuit?