Apparently, it’s censorship week at Twitter.
Earlier this week, we told you that Twitter was under fire from French anti-discrimination groups over a series of unsavory tweets stemming from a particular hashtag. The groups accused Twitter of allowing a “competition of anti-semitic jokes” to exist on the site, after some users used the hashtag #unbonjuif to tweet inflammatory images and messages about the holocaust.
#unbonjuif translates to “A Good Jew” in English. The groups threatened legal action if Twitter allowed the tweets to remain in circulation.
Now, Twitter has complied, removing the offensive tweets associated with the hashtag. Another, anti-Muslim hashtag was also part of the wipe.
“Twitter does not mediate content. 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,” said Twitter in a statement to the AP.
Twitter’s terms do give them the right to remove any content it sees fit to remove and to comply with governmental requests.
“We reserve the right at all times (but will not have an obligation) to remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, to suspend or terminate users, and to reclaim usernames without liability to you. We also reserve the right to access, read, preserve, and disclose any information as we reasonably believe is necessary to (i) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request, (ii) enforce the Terms, including investigation of potential violations hereof, (iii) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, (iv) respond to user support requests, or (v) protect the rights, property or safety of Twitter, its users and the public”
The Twitter rules also state that users “may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.”
Still, it’s unlikely that free speech advocates and many Twitter users will be happy about the removal of tweets because they were “offensive.” Still, French law outlaws all types of discrimination based on race, religion, etc.
This decision is a little bit different from another one to censor tweets made this week. Yesterday, Twitter decided to block a neo-Nazi account inside Germany – and inside Germany only. That means that the account is still available to everyone else in the world. It marked the first time that Twitter had invoked the right to locally censor content, a right they gave themselves back in January of this year. In the case of these French tweets, they’ve simply been removed from the network altogether.