This article was published on January 24, 2013

French court orders Twitter to reveal personal data to fight racist and anti-Semitic tweets

French court orders Twitter to reveal personal data to fight racist and anti-Semitic tweets

Paris High Court today ordered Twitter to reveal data that will help identify authors of racist and anti-Semitic tweets, French news agencies AFP and Reuters report. The court also gave the company 15 days to comply, after which it will be subject to a daily penalty of €1,000 ($1,335).

As we reported last November, the French Jewish Students Union had filed summons against Twitter in order to trace users who had tweeted hate speech last October, using the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodJew in French). The association is planning to get them prosecuted individually, since incitement to racial hatred is a criminal offence in France, but it will need their names to do so.

As a result, it referred the matter to an interim relief judge, asking for a significant daily coercive fine to get Twitter to share data in a timely manner. It’s worth remembering that the company had already removed some litigious tweets, but it was still holding back on user data, amid dispute on whether or not it was subject to French law.

In addition, new racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic tweets had again been posted on the platform over the past few weeks, reinforcing arguments in favor of improved flagging options. This was another of the union’s demands, and the judge decided to grant this request by asking Twitter to implement a visible reporting system on its French platform.

It remains to be seen when Twitter will install this feature, and whether or not it will be limited to France. We have reached out to Twitter for comment and will update this post accordingly.

Update: A Twitter spokesperson sent us the following statement: “We are currently reviewing the court’s decision.”

Image credit: FRED TANNEAU / AFP / Getty Images