French Jews Sue to Censor Twitter

French Jews Sue to Censor Twitter

In an ongoing assault on free speech the Union of French Jewish Students (UFJS) sued Twitter for $50,000,000 for allowing "hateful" tweets. What exactly was the “offending” language is unclear. The JTA news organization claimed that the lawsuit, “concerns tweets that call for killing Jews and praising the Holocaust.”

This interpretation has been picked up by much of the media but the truth seems to be different. “The case revolves around a hashtag – #unbonjuif ("a good Jew") – which became the third-most popular on the site in October 2012.” Over 350,000 tweets were posted, and the site became a place where various jokes were posted, some vulgar, many not.

UFJS leader, Jonathan Hayoun, claimed Twitter "is making itself an accomplice and offering a highway for racists and anti-Semites". Most of the US media ignores large parts of the story. For example, “Even though it's a strong defender of free speech, Twitter agreed to remove the tweets in question as offensive.”

Turns out, that wasn't enough. In January, the French Court decision decreed that Twitter was bound to hand over the names of the authors of the tweets. The UEJF demanded that it release the names so that police action could be taken against the authors for ‘hate speech’. Twitter ignored the ruling, saying it was “currently reviewing the court’s decision” at the time of issue. It was given 15 days to either give up the names, or file an appeal. The ruling was exactly two months ago on Sunday.

Thus, Twitter is taking a reasonable but principled stand in favor of free speech (and stupid jokes).

Twitter announced: "We've been in continual discussions with UEJF," a Twitter spokesperson told CNET. "As yesterday's new filing shows, they are sadly more interested in grandstanding than taking the proper international legal path for this data. We are filing our appeal today, and would have filed it sooner if not for UEJF's intentional delay in processing the court's decision."

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