French Students Win Twitter Anti-Semitism Legal Battle

A French court ordered Twitter on Thursday to disclose the identities of racist and anti-Semitic users to police, ruling it unacceptable to post hateful material anonymously.

Arab in front of computer

The decision issued by a high court in Paris came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Union of French Jewish Students in October that successfully sought to order Twitter to remove a number of virulent hateful and anti-Semitic messages.

Jewish students filed the case last year, after an increase in the number of anti-Semitic tweets appearing across France. Messages appeared under the hashtag #unbonjuif, meaning #agoodjew, with vicious examples including, “#agoodjew is a dead Jew.”

The hashtag soon became the third most popular in France.

“We are currently reviewing the court’s decision,” a spokesman for Twitter told the BBC.

The spokesman reiterated the micro-blogging site’s assertion that it does not monitor content, but reviews reports of content that may be illegal or against its policies.

Students use computers (illustrative)

Students use computers (illustrative)

The court also ordered Twitter to “set up as part of the French platform” an “easily accessible and visible” system that would allow users to alert the site to illegal content which constituted “apology for crimes against humanity and incitement to racial hatred,” the BBC reported.

The initial court ruling in October to remove the messages came shortly after Twitter banned the account of a neo-Nazi group based in Hanover, at the request of German police.

Earlier this month, the French Jewish students’ union reported that a new racist hash tag, #sijetaisnazi, meaning #IfIwasaNazi, was trending.

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