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October 19, 2012

Twitter Removes Offensive Tweets Posted in France, Germany

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Twitter (News - Alert) has found itself taking down offensive comments made in France and Germany.

Late this week, Twitter removed anti-Semitic tweets from France. The offensive tweets had a “#unbonjuif” (#agoodjew) hashtag, according to the BBC.

If the tweets were not taken down voluntarily by Twitter, a Jewish student group, the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF), would seek an injunction to force Twitter to take them down.

The #unbonjuif hashtag was among the most popular of all items on Twitter among French-speaking users, according to news reports. In fact, the hashtag #UnBonJuif on Twitter was rated the third most tweeted subject in France, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Most of those using the hashtag denied being anti-Jewish. But some of the comments made fun of the victims of the Holocaust, when six million Jews were killed during World War II.

The president of the Union of Students of France, Jonathan Hayoun, said that, “Twitter France must ensure that messages which convey racist or anti-Semitic hate speech are not prominent and available [to its entire] social network... The fight against racism and anti-Semitism is everyone's business, starting with those that regulate social networks.”

Earlier in the week, Twitter blocked a possible neo-Nazi group’s account to users within Germany, the BBC said.

Twitter has a policy to block content in specific countries if tweets violate local laws, the BBC explained. German police had asked that the account be closed.

Better Hannover, described as a right-wing extremist group from Lower Saxony, was believed to be responsible, news reports said.

Known in Germany as “Besseres Hannover,” the group, though now disbanded, allegedly threatened immigrants in Germany and handed out racist documents at schools in Lower Saxony, the BBC said.

They were involved in other objectionable activities, as well.

The blocking in Germany represents the first time Twitter has used its new local censorship policy. Other applications of the new policy are possible – despite concerns from free speech advocates. Several members of U.S. Congress have asked the FBI to ask Twitter to block the accounts of known terrorist groups, according to Foreign Policy magazine.




Edited by Braden Becker
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