French Court Tells Twitter to ID Anti-Semitic Users

#GoodJew Hashtag Tweets Could Violate Hate Speech Laws

By Reuters

Published January 24, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A French court on Thursday ordered Twitter Inc to help identify the authors of anti-Semitic posts or face fines of 1,000 euros ($1,300) per day, as the social network firm comes under renewed pressure to combat racist and extremist messages.

The order, requested by a Jewish student union and rights groups, concerned anti-Semitic material but could open the floodgates to legal pursuit of Twitter users who post a wide range of messages deemed illegal or offensive.

“This is an excellent decision, which we hope will bring an end to the feeling of impunity that fuels the worst excesses,” said Stephane Lilti, lawyer for the groups who sought the ruling.

The anti-Semitic messages started appearing last October, and have since been deleted.

The Paris court gave privately-held Twitter, whose general policy is that it does not control content posted on its network, 15 days to hand over data identifying people who have published messages judged anti-Semitic.

The court also ordered Twitter to set up a system in France that helps people draw attention to illegal content. Under French law, people found guilty of inciting racial hatred can be jailed for a year and fined.

Twitter’s lawyer in France, Alexandra Neri, declined to comment.

Failure to comply would expose the firm, founded in 2006 and now boasting 140 million monthly active users worldwide, to daily fines of 1,000 euros if the groups who sought the order request it, which Lilti said they would not hesitate to do.

A rights group involved in the case was quick to point out that the injunction, while limited to a case of anti-Semitic traffic, set a precedent that could also have a wider impact.

“This marks a decisive step forward in the battle against racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic offences on the Internet,” the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) said in a statement.

“Nobody can ignore French law, not even the giants of the American digital economy.”

For a first time, Twitter deployed a new message-blocker in Germany last October to jam the posting of messages by a neo-Nazi group banned by police.

A tool Twitter calls “country withheld content” allows it to censor tweets considered illegal in a given country.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.