Twitter Faces $50M Suit Over Hashtag Haters

French Jews Want Social Media Giant to ID Anti-Semitic Users

By JTA

Published March 21, 2013.
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Twitter is being sued for about $50 million in France for failing to honor a court ruling which ordered it to identify users who posted anti-Semitic hate speech.

The Union of Jewish French Students, or UEJF by its French acronym, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday with a Paris correctional tribunal, according to the French news agency AFP.

UEJF President Jonathan Hayoun said his organization filed the lawsuit because the California-based website has “ignored” a civil court ruling from Jan. 24, which gave Twitter two weeks to comply with UEJF’s demand that Twitter identify people who broke France’s laws against hate speech.

As an American company, Twitter argued in court that it adheres to U.S. laws and protected by the First Amendment and the broad free speech liberties it ensures. But the judge said that comments by internet users in France are subject to France’s stricter legislation against racist and hateful expression.

“Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling,” Hayoun told AFP on Wednesday. “They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites.”

UEJF sued Twitter last year shortly after the hashtag “unBonJuif,” French for “aGoodJew,” became the third most popular on French Twitter. A hashtag is a phrase which, when preceded by the symbol #, is used to index relevant tweets. Many users posted Holocaust jokes and calls to kill Jews under #UnBoJuif.

UEJF wants to deposit any damages it is awarded in a trial against Twitter with an organization working to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, AFP reported.


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