On Thursday, a court in Paris ordered Twitter Inc to cooperate with authorities to identify people making anti-Semitic posts or be fined 1,000 Euros per day. The order is in response of a petition filed in October by France’s Union of Jewish Students (UJEF), which argued that many of the anti-Semitic tweets breached French law.
Under French law, people convicted of inciting racial hatred can be jailed up to a year.
However, the French court ruled that Twitter must engage in identifying authors of anti-Semitic tweets “within the framework of its French site.”
Recently, Twitter had suspended the account of a neo-Nazi group in Germany after a request from German authorities.
Reuters reported that Stephane Lilti, a lawyer for the groups that filed the lawsuit saying, “This is an excellent decision, which we hope will bring an end to the feeling of impunity that fuels the worst excesses.”
Twitter has already deleted a number of the anti-Semitic messages which started appearing in October.
Twitter has received a time of 15 days to identify the people publishing anti-Semitic tweets. The Paris court also ordered Twitter to create a system in France so that illegal content can be easily identified by users.
This marks a precedent where, even though Twitter maintains that its users ultimately own their content, nevertheless the control of the social network over the use and publishing of user content and its consequent responsibility is recognized.
The lawsuit came in the wake of an anti-Semitic hashtag becoming the third most popular trending on Twitter in October, last year.
A rights group, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, indicated in a statement that the ruling might have wider implications. It said, “This marks a decisive step forward in the battle against racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic offences on the Internet.”