Hate Speech

Twitter May Pay a Price for Resisting Government Demands – In France, Anyway

French authorities order social media company to reveal identities of anti-Semitic tweeters


Potentially bad for your well-being in European countries
Credit: carrotcreative / Foter.com / CC BY

Twitter has been seen as a bit of a hero in the National Security Agency snooping scandal for not cooperating with the federal government's surveillance tactics unless the law absolutely required them to do so.

In France, though, the country's much more restrictive speech laws may have the social media company paying big time if it refuses to surrender some of its users' identities. Courtesy of IDG News Service:

A French court of appeal has rejected a move by Twitter seeking to shield the identities of those responsible for posts last year contravening French laws on hate speech and carrying the hashtag #unbonjuif (a good Jew).

The appeals court upheld a ruling in a case brought last November by the French Jewish Students Union (UEJF) and four other French antiracism organizations, seeking to compel Twitter to reveal the identities of the posters and to provide a simple way for its users to flag similarly illegal messages.

CNet describes the actual tweets in a little more detail. They said things like "A good Jew is a dead Jew" and suggested they should be cooked. Very unpleasant comments, and some European nations have strict hate speech laws we don't have here in the United States. British authorities have arrested people before over the contents of their tweets. We should assume the same will happen in France to the people Twitter is currently shielding.

This French Jewish Students Union group has also filed a $50 million lawsuit against Twitter for not handing the information over. So they're demanding millions of dollars not because Twitter broke the law but because Twitter is using the country's court system to legally (presumably) appeal a ruling? Twitter responded by accusing them of grandstanding.

Twitter is still considering their responses, including resubmitting an appeal, according to CNet.

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  1. I really don’t understand how France (or any country) can have any power over a company with no servers or employees on their soil. Not sure if Twitter has it or not but it seems like doing so is a recipe for letting the local gov push you around, and keeping your servers out is a recipe for WIN.

    1. I was wondering about that too. It’s not like Twitter needs a license to operate in France. If they have any people/equipment there, they can relocate next door to Belgium or whatever and tell Pierre to fuck off.

      1. va te faire foutre c’est pourquoi

        1. I accept your surrender.

  2. I didn’t meet an actual anti-Semite until I was in my mid 20’s. I thought that whole WW2 thing sent them underground. When will people learn we are all individuals not bound by our particular geography/religion/skin tone?

    1. I lived in Montreal when I was a kid and there was serious animosity between the French Canadians and the Jews there. Not sure I would call that classic anti-semitism, particularly as it was mutual, but…

      In the US I grew up around people who were mildly anti-semitic. I remember being embarrassed when one of my closest friends, who was Jewish, came to my house and one of my guests kept talking about someone “Jewing” him out of something. I’m not sure he was all that anti-semitic, actually- I would think a true anti-semite would have realized my very ashekenazic-looking friend was a Jew. It was just a phrase to him.

  3. …and some European nations have strict hate speech laws we don’t have here in the United States.

    Just give Washington a little time and that will change.

  4. Why isn’t the course of action taken in every instance of this kind of asshattery for the targetted company to say “no, fuck you,” pull out of that particular foreign country entirely, and then see if their product is desired enough by that country’s people for them to actually oppose their government’s heavy-handed positions? I just don’t understand.

    1. When a company is privately owned, no problem. When you are accountable to shareholders, it gets a little more complex.

  5. Sounds like someone in the French Government has WAY too much spare time on their hands.


    1. We are all AnonBot today.

    2. Sounds like AnonBot has gotten all the exposure in France it’s going to get.

    3. When did AnonBot get quite so on topic?

      Is this going to be some kind of libertarian SkyNet?

      1. You’ve never seen it comment on police threads?

        It can be quite caustic when it wants to be.

        1. Indeed – downright blood thirsty sometimes.

          I hope it never gets orbital lasers.

  6. Ah yes, France. Home of the Enlightenment and all things warm, fuzzy and progressive. We should be more like them.

    1. John Locke was French?

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