Twitter's appeal against racist tweets case written off

Twitter's appeal against racist tweets case written off

Summary: At the end of January, a French court ordered Twitter to reveal the details of accounts used to post racist and anti-Semitic tweets last autumn. Twitter appealed against the ruling, but has lost that appeal.


A French court has rejected Twitter's appeal against being forced to hand over details of its users.

The drama started last October, after the anti-Semitic hashtag #UnBonJuif (a good Jew) made its way onto Twitter's list of trending topics in France.

The Association of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) began legal action against the microblogging service in November, asking a Paris court to force Twitter to reveal details of the accounts that used the hashtag in order that legal action could be taken against the users behind them.

Twitter lost the case earlier this year. The court largely found in favour of the UEJF, ordering the site to reveal details of the accounts at issue.  Twitter subsequently decided to appeal against the ruling – to no avail.

The UEJF began a process aimed at getting Twitter's appeal written off, as is permitted under French law, and last week the Paris appeal court ruled in favour of the association, saying Twitter did not provide an "easily accessible and visible" way to notify the company of illegal or suspicious tweets, nor "justify its refusal to comply with the ruling", and asking the company to hand over the requested account details.

Twitter has also been sentenced to pay €1,500 (£1,287) and to cover the UEJF's legal expenses. In a statement, the association welcomed the write-off of Twitter's appeal. According to Jonathan Hayoun, president of the UEJF, "French justice has hardened its tone. It confirmed that Twitter has eventually become responsible for racist and anti-Semitic content posted by its users [...]. Twitter can't toy with French justice anymore [...] and must cooperate" when ordered to in such cases, it said.

But the drama is not yet over. The association started a new legal action against the company at the end of March, seeking €38.5m in compensation, which it plans to donate to the Shoah Memorial, a museum dedicated to Jewish history during the Second World War. The first hearing in that separate case is expected in September.

Topics: Legal, EU

Valéry Marchive

About Valéry Marchive

A graduate in networking and databases and an author of several books about Apple gear, Valéry Marchive has been covering the French IT landscape since the late 90s, both for the consumer and enterprise sectors.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Ridiculous ruling

    While the Association of Jewish Students in France is surely pleased with itself, we should all be concerned when someone concludes that "..Twitter has eventually become responsible for racist and anti-Semitic content.." That's like dragging the phone company into court to force them to reveal anyone who uses an offensive word during their conversation.

    Maybe French judges should continue their reductionist logic and go after the manufacturers of the copper cable; their wires facilitate racist communication and are therefore racist.
  • Does twitter have servers or employees in France?

    If not, they should wish the French good luck with enforcing their court orders.
  • The real problem is "hate speech" laws

    Many European countries have so-called "hate speech" laws that attempt to balance free speech against a "right" not to be offended. IMHO, these laws are both ridiculous and extremely dangerous.
  • We do not need ...

    hate speech laws because we have a long tradition of decent people providing their own "hate against hate" speech in response. Europe's hate speech laws were intended to stop the resurgence of the Nazis, and they are probably no longer useful. There is an inherent contradiction between freedom of speech and restricting hate speech. In America we may boycott corporations in response to their minions' hate speech until they fire those minions, but we have no laws against hate. Of course, we DO have laws that make physical attacks more SERIOUS if hatred of some group is behind them, but there has to be ANOTHER crime before that takes effect. In other words, for our friends outside the US, if you beat someone up, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him a mile, if it is because you just don't like HIM, or because he witnessed you doing some other crime, or he owes you money, or any other reason, it is ONLY first degree murder; if you did that exact same crime and ALSO told people you were doing it because of his RACE, or RELIGION, or NATIONALITY, or because he was GAY, then it is first degree murder AND a hate crime. For murder one it hardly makes a difference, but for lesser crimes such as simple assault or vandalism it would make a big difference (writing graffiti on a synagogue that is NOT related to anti-Semitism is just vandalism, but putting a swastika or a phrase such as H... H... would be HATE CRIME vandalism).
  • The real reason for the lawsuit is at the end of the article

    "seeking €38.5m in compensation"

    It's all about the money. Twitter didn't do anything wrong but these people feel they are justified in stealing from the company because they were offended.

    I'm with #2 above - good luck with enforcement.
    Beat a Dead Horse