Civil Liberties

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 / / 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.