Twitter was threatened to a lawsuit by a Jewish group for racist and anti-Semitic tweets posted using French hash tags. The social media company agreed to remove the tweets after being threatened to a lawsuit for violating national laws against hate speech. This news came just one day after the company blocked an account from a banned neo-Nazi group in Germany.
“Twitter does not mediate content,” the company said in a statement. “If we are alerted to content that may be in violation of our terms of service, we will investigate each report and respond according to the policies and procedures outlined in our support pages.”
The policies of Twitter require that its international users follow local laws for online conduct and acceptable content when using the social media platform. The group that threatened to sue Twitter, French Union of Jewish Students, was going to send a list of the tweets it wanted Twitter to take down from its site. The group said that it would file a complaint against Twitter so the tweeters would be punished.
The tweets began on October 10 and had slurs and photos regarding the Holocaust in them. One photo was of a pile of ash while another was of a victim of the Holocaust. The pictures were then accompanied by anti-Muslim tweets.
The account of the neo-Nazi group in Germany had its account blocked by Twitter on Thursday. The tweets from the account were still visible on accounts of users who were from a different location. The tweets posted in French came from hundreds of users, not all of them from France. When it was announced that the group and Twitter came to an agreement, people began using the same hash tag that started the problem to say the agreement is against freedom of expression.
The vice president of the group, Elie Petit, said, “I don’t think a call for murder is freedom of expression.” According to French law, all types of discrimination is banned based on religion, ethnicity, nationality or race. In German law, people are prohibited from displaying the swastika or exclaiming ‘heil Hitler.’
Alex Macgillivray, the general counsel for Twitter, said in a tweet that the company’s administration “never want to withhold content, good to have tools to do it narrowly and transparently.”
The president of the French group, Jonathan Hayoun, said in a statement that the group was not trying to become the “garbage collectors of the Internet. Twitter can’t be a place of illegal expression.”