Twitter Sued for $50M in France for Withholding the Identities of Anti-Semitic Users

    March 21, 2013
    Josh Wolford
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Twitter is being sued in France for failing to disclose the identities of users wrapped up in an anti-Semitic hashtag controversy that has spanned five months.

Here’s my attempt to make a long story short:

Back in October of 2012, a hashtag emerged on Twitter that many users found exceedingly offensive. The hashtag, #unbonjuif, roughly translates to “a good jew.” Some Twitter users jumped on the hashtag, posting photos of dust-filled dustpans and other anti-Semitic jokes alongside the hashtag.

A handful of French anti-racism groups called out Twitter, asking that the site remove all of the offending tweets. Eventually, as the pressure mounted, Twitter complied.

But some of the groups, including the French Jewish Students Union (UEJF), decided to push Twitter a bit further. They demanded that Twitter give up the names of all of the users associated with the #unbonjuif tweets, so that they could be prosecuted under local anti-hate speech laws. Twitter wasn’t too keen on this idea, and that led the UEJF to file a summons against the company back in November.

In January, a French court ruled that Twitter must provide the identities of the requested users, to comply with French law. Twitter said that they would review the decision.

And that brings us up to date. The UEJF has officially taken action against Twitter, suing them for roughly $50 million for failing to carry through with the court’s order. Twitter apparently had two weeks to hand over the names, and that time has come and gone.

“Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling,” said UEJF President Jonathan Hayoun. “They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites.”

Twitter reserves the right to give up any information it holds on users if requested by law enforcement or by a court order. They say so in their terms of service – this is not part of the debate. In the past, however, Twitter has gone to bat to protect user privacy when they sense some government overreach. In September of 2012, Twitter gave in to the Manhattan D.A.’s office and gave up the deleted, inaccessible tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester – but only after they fought it tooth and nail.

You may remember that they also blocked a neo-Nazi account in Germany last year, utilizing their self-appointed authority to censor content locally if they saw fit. Blocking or removing content is one thing, but disclosing the identities of users in order to aid in regional hate-speech laws is a different ballgame.

[UEJF via JTA]
  • edwordrules

    “The UEJF has officially taken action against Twitter, suing them four roughly $50 million…” Nice of you two proof read.

    • Irony

      to* lol

      • yoyo

        that’s the joke

  • http://chucktowngrindaz.webs.com Peachie

    I agree with edwordrules up there. How do you write an article and don’t even proofread it before the publishing of it? Oh, nevermind, I see how … “Josh Wolford is a Writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Sriracha and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.” <— he was drunk during the process! Got'cha! lol :)

  • Anonymous

    To be completely honest I just think twitter is a pointless website. I think it’s funny they’re getting sued and hope that they disappear.

    • amyre

      Thank u

  • jester

    what is the difference between a pizza and a jew?”

  • adam

    Um I’m fond of free speech. #goodjobtwitter

  • mat

    I disagree with the UEJF president. Twitter is only pretecting the identity of their users. Thats respectable, online communities dont hold responsibility for their users statements. People are always bitchin’ about something. I say “Go play Battlefield 3 and lets all shoot each other”!

  • amyre

    The ones that agree with twitter u all are ass holes. What if it was us white ppl, how the fuck wide u feel then. Y are ppl mean to Jews. U guys are racist bastards.