What it means for Twitter to lose a battle against France over online hate speech


The Paris Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday that Twitter must disclose details of what it is doing to tackle hate speech online in France, handing a win to defense groups who say the social network is not doing enough.

The decision provides an opportunity for activists elsewhere in Europe who want stricter controls to prevent the spread of racist and discriminatory content on Twitter and other social media platforms. To manage content on the French version of the platform.

The lower court ruling also asked Twitter to disclose any contractual, administrative, commercial and technical documents that would have helped identify the financial and human resources it used to combat online hate speech in France.

A copy of the ruling seen by Reuters showed the appeals court said it had fully confirmed the first ruling and said Twitter had paid 1,500 euros ($1,700) in compensation to each of six plaintiffs.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company’s top priority is to ensure the safety of people using its platform, adding that the group was reviewing the court’s decision, and the US company declined to comment on the financial and operational implications of the ruling.

Campaign activists were elated though, as the six pressure groups that have sued Twitter assert that only a fraction of the hate messages have been removed from the platform 48 hours after they were reported.

Marc Knobel, president of J’Accuse, said: “I am tired of this covenant where everything is allowed and where it is ‘taboo, and (accused), one of the groups, referring to the famous slogan spread on the walls of Paris during the 1968 protests.

The ruling distinguishes France from countries such as Denmark, Britain and the United States, where the country’s strict anti-racism laws have allowed such lawsuits. In France, racism and anti-Semitism are not views that can be publicly espoused, but as offenses.

Global tech giants have been accused of doing too little to tackle online abuse, and the European Union’s upcoming regulation, the Digital Services Act (DSA), is set to mandate faster removal of illegal content, such as hate speech.

And last May, Britain said a planned new law would see social media companies fined up to 10% of their sales or 18 million pounds ($25 million) if they failed to stamp out online abuses such as racist hate crimes, while top managers could face criminal proceedings.


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