Twitter facing €38.5m court case in France over racist tweets

The Association of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) has taken fresh legal action against Twitter for not complying with a previous court order compelling it to share data that might help identify the authors of anti-Semitic or racist tweets.
Written by Valéry Marchive, Contributor

Twitter looks set to face another court battle in France over racist or offensive tweets.

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) subsequently began legal action against the site, asking a Paris court to force Twitter to reveal details of the accounts that used the hashtag so that legal action could be taken against the users behind them. Twitter eventually lost the case: the court largely agreed with the UEJF, ordering the site to reveal the details of the accounts at issue. 

The UEJF is now claiming that Twitter hasn't complied with the ruling. In an interview with the French news agency AFP, Jonathan Hayoun, president of the association, said that "by not complying with the ruling of 24 January, Twitter is playing the indifference card... They did not comply at all. By protecting the anonymity of the authors of these tweets, they make themselves accomplices and give way to racists and anti-Semitic people."

The association on Wednesday began a new legal action against the company, 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.

Twitter claims that they were only officially notified of the January court order "a few days" ago: in France, the stakeholders in such a case are given two weeks to appeal a ruling after they've received such official notification.

According the French newspaper Le Monde, the site has now finally decided to appeal the ruling, claiming it didn't do so before because "the UEJF deliberately took a long time to study the ruling".

Twitter also said that it has held discussions with the UEJF" but, "as their filing of a case today demonstrates, the association is unfortunately more interested in theatrical rhetoric than in finding the appropriate international processes to gain access to the requested data."

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