Twitter loses legal battle against online hate speech in France

Paris: Twitter must disclose details about what it is doing to combat online hate speech in France, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday, ruling in favor of advocacy groups who say the social network is n not enough.

The ruling provides ammunition for activists elsewhere in Europe who want tougher controls to prevent the spread of racist and discriminatory content on Twitter and other social media platforms.

He upheld a lower court ruling last year that ordered Twitter to provide details of the number, nationality, location and spoken language of the people it employs to moderate content for the French version. of the platform.

The lower court’s decision also required Twitter to disclose any contractual, administrative, commercial and technical documents that would help determine the financial and human resources it deployed to combat online hate speech in France.

The appeals court said it upheld the first decision in full and said Twitter should pay 1,500 euros ($1,700) in damages to each of the six plaintiffs, a copy of the decision seen by Reuters showed. .

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

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Activists were jubilant, however. The six lobby groups that sued Twitter had argued that only a fraction of hateful posts were removed from the platform 48 hours after they were flagged.

“Forbidden to forbid”

“I’m fed up with this reign where everything is permitted and where it is ‘forbidden to ban'”, declared Marc Knobel, the president of J’Accuse! (J’accuse), one of the groups, referring to a famous slogan spread on the walls of Paris during the demonstrations of 1968.

“We must stop with this delirium: not everything should be allowed in our society.”

The decision distinguishes France from countries such as Denmark, Britain and the United States, as the country’s strict anti-racism laws have allowed such litigation to succeed.

In France, racism and anti-Semitism are not considered as opinions that can be held publicly, but as offences.

Global tech giants have been accused of doing too little to tackle online abuse. An upcoming EU regulation, the Digital Services Act (DSA), is expected to provide procedures for faster removal of illegal content, such as hate speech.

Last May, Britain said a planned new law would see social media companies fined up to 10% of turnover or 18 million pounds ($25 million) if they failed. fail to root out online abuse such as racist hate crimes, while senior executives could face criminal charges. .

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