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January 25, 2013

French Court Says that Twitter Must Identify Authors of Racist Tweets

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

A French court has ordered Twitter (News - Alert) to help assist in identifying the authors of the racist tweets. With this ruling, Twitter will now be obliged to help identify the authors of the messages. Twitter had initially said that it would not provide any data or account holder details, unless ordered by a judge. 

The ruling comes after a legal protest lodged by the anti-racism group UEJF, or France’s Union of Jewish Students. The Union argued that such racist tweets had not only breached French laws, but also incited racial hatred. They have been demanding that Twitter exercise stiffer controls following a flood of racial tweets posted.

Twitter has already agreed to remove some of the offending tweets that flooded the site in a "competition of anti-Semitic jokes," French daily Le Monde wrote. The hashtag had become the third most popular among French Twitterati.

Twitter had initially refused to comment on the racist tweets as it "does not mediate content."

Image via Shutterstock

However, a Twitter spokesperson released a statement saying; “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."

In October 2012, Twitter banned the account of a prominent German neo-Nazi group following an appeal from the German government.

France's SPCJ Jewish security watchdog said that anti-Semitic acts and racial tweets increased by over 45 percent since 2012. This was given a further impetus after the attack by Mohammed Merah, the Islamic extremist. Merah had gone on a shooting spree in March 2012 around the city of Toulouse, killing three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French paratroopers before being shot death in a police siege.

Twitter also apologized sometime last year (July 2012) for banning the account of a British journalist.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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