Twitter sues Germany for refusing to remove anti-Semitic content – ​​

Twitter is currently facing a lawsuit in Germany over its refusal to remove anti-Semitic content, which could have a wider impact on users’ ability to enforce the platforms terms.

The lawsuit, filed in a Berlin court on Wednesday (January 25), was brought by digital rights organization HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and concerns six pieces of content reported on Twitter as anti-Semitic. .

Both organizations believe that the platform’s refusal to remove content, including in some cases trivializing or denying the Holocaust, is a violation of its rules and policies.

The case must determine whether this represents a breach of contract between the platform and its users, and whether the latter have the right to take legal action to obtain enforcement, even if they are not personally affected by the infringing content.

“We have put control of public access on the Internet in the hands of corporations and private investors. Twitter assures that it will not tolerate bullying on its platform. Users should be able to trust it.”– said Josephine Ballon, Chief Legal Officer of HateAid.

“But in practice, we see the opposite happening: illegal content is, at best, removed arbitrarily and opaquely. That has to change eventually. Twitter should offer us a platform of communication where we can freely act without fear of hatred and harassment. »

The work, which HateAid and EUJS say is illegal under German law, contains six pieces of content, including anti-Semitic language. This content was flagged on the platform but not removed because Twitter has expressly refused to remove Holocaust denial commentary.

The opt-out allegedly violates Twitter’s hateful and abusive behavior policy, which is from the platform “Tackling abuse based on hate, prejudice or intolerance” and ban content “Denial massacres or other events that caused large numbers of victims” Like the Holocaust.

The legal remedy is based on the argument that by accepting these policies when creating an account on the platform, users enter into a contract with Twitter and in turn agree to be bound by its terms. HateAid and EUJS said the company also breached the agreement by not removing content that violated these rules.

However, the potential implications of the case are broader than these specific examples of content that were not removed. The lawsuit aims, in part, to clarify whether platforms have a legal obligation to comply with these terms and, if so, whether users have the right to take legal action if they fail to comply.

This may mean that users can use the courts to remove infringing content, even if it is not directly related to them.

A positive ruling would be in conflict with the current situation in Germany, where a complaint must be registered with the Federal Office of Justice, which can impose fines if there is evidence of systemic failure of the platform.

Such cases have not been seen since the country’s content moderation law came into force in 2018: the Network Rights Protection Act (NetzDG).

EURACTIV tried to contact Twitter for a response, but could not find any press contact information. Messages sent to the email addresses of three Twitter employees were unsuccessful.

Content moderation and the treatment of hateful or hateful content on social media have long been contentious topics and areas of intense debate among tech companies and digital policymakers.

It turned out that hate speech on Twitter increased during the chaotic period after Elon Musk took over the platform in 2022. During this time, many of the platform’s employees worked on teams such as content moderation and AI Human Rights. Ethical, fired.

A 2021 study by the Center Against Digital Hate found that social media companies failed to take action on 84% of anti-Jewish content and 80% of posts that denied or downplayed the Holocaust.

The study found that Twitter took action on only 11% of reported anti-Semitic posts, the second lowest rate among major platforms behind Facebook (10.9%).

“By allowing hateful content to spread, the company is failing to protect its users, especially Jewish youth. But what starts online doesn’t end online. In doing so, Twitter breeds real hatred and violence and ignores our democratic values.”EUJS president Avital Grinberg said.

[Édité par Anne-Sophie Gayet]

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