Student group accuses global networking site of failing to respond to court order to hand over data to help identify authors of anti-Semitic tweets
A Jewish student group has announced it was taking further legal action against Twitter over the global networking site’s failure to respond to a French court order to hand over data to help identify the authors of anti-Semitic tweets.
“Twitter is playing the indifference card in not respecting the decision of January 24,” when a Paris civil court gave the company two weeks to hand over the requested information, said Jonathan Hayoun, president of France’s Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), on Wednesday.
“In protecting the anonymity of the author of these tweets it is making itself an accomplice and offering a highway for racists and anti-Semites,” he added.
The French Jewish students group said it was taking legal action against Twitter and its CEO Dick Costolo.
The association is claiming €38.5 million ($50 million) in damages which they would hand over to the Shoah Memorial fund, according to the text of the summons for Twitter to appear before the civil court’s criminal division.
UEJF lawyer Stephane Lilti said the group had filed the summons on Wednesday.
Questioned by AFP, Twitter said it was in discussions with the Jewish student group but that “unfortunately they are more interested in these grand gestures than in finding an adequate international procedure to obtain the requested information.”
“We will appeal tomorrow (Thursday)” to the French court, Twitter said in reference to the January 24 decision.
It added that the French court had only notified it of the earlier ruling “a few days ago.”
On Sunday, French President Hollande called for the names of the authors of the anti-Semitic tweets to be released, in line with the court’s decision.
The union had been pressing Twitter to exercise tighter control of what appeared on its Internet site following a deluge of anti-Semitic messages posted under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew).
Twitter later removed some of the offending tweets.
Last October, Twitter suspended the account of a neo-Nazi group in Germany following a request from the government in Berlin.
That was the first time that the US firm had applied a policy known as “country-withheld content”, which allows it to block an account at the request of state authorities.
Twitter sued for $50 million for not naming authors of anti-Semitic tweets
French student union criticizes Twitter as being indifference to racist and hateful speech toward Jews; American company argues it adheres to U.S. laws, but judge says comments by French users are subject to local, stricter legislation.
The Union of Jewish French Students sued Twitter for about $50 million for failing to honor a court ruling to identify users who posted anti-Semitic hate speech.
The union, or UEJF, 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 January 24 that Twitter must identify people who broke France’s laws against hate speech. The ruling came following an earlier UEJF lawsuit.
As an American company, Twitter argued in court that it adheres to U.S. laws and is protected by the First Amendment and its broad free speech liberties. But the French 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 that when preceded by the symbol # is used to index relevant tweets.
Many users posted Holocaust jokes and calls to kill Jews under #UnBoJuif.
UEJF said it wants to deposit any damages from a Twitter suit with an organization working to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, AFP reported.