Hate online, Twitter at the dock

Is Twitter above French law? And why does the social network go to such lengths to ensure the identity of people who spread hateful messages? These are the questions asked by three terror victims in a Paris court on Tuesday, January 31. Two of them are attending this afternoon’s meeting.

The first is Aurelia Gilbert at the Bataclan on November 13, 2015. George Salines’ (1) daughter, Lola, who was sitting next to him, was killed in the concert hall. The third plaintiff is Nicholas Henin, a former journalist held hostage in Syria by the Islamic State group from June 2013 to April 2014.

The file is classified quickly

All three people said that they support the return of jihadist children held in camps in Syria to France. It was for Nicolas Henin in 2019 and for Aurelia Gilbert and Georges Salines in the summer of 2020. This earned them numerous messages of abuse or threats on Twitter. All three appealed, but justices quickly dismissed the case after Twitter failed to respond to requests to hand over elements identifying the authors of the malicious tweets. As a result, the trio complained to the social network.

At the helm, Aurélia Gilbert and then Georges Salines are eager to explain their position in favor of the return of the jihadists’ children. “The goal was to get out of the model where all the victims of terrorism wanted to be against this repatriation,” said the first. “And challenge the idea that victims are driven only by a desire for revenge,” defines the second. And then it is the same impotence that they describe in front of them “leap” the hatred that followed. “Too bad they missed it”, a surfer dared to talk about Bataclan shooting survivor Aurelia Gilbert. Georges Salines received a message saying he was you should throw all the stupid employees off the bridge and kill them, even better”.

However “rocker” It happened with the hacking of Aurelia Gilbert’s Twitter account. “Someone got into my inbox and took over my account. “That person deleted my post about the return of children from Syria and made another post that revealed my personal phone number and said that I was betraying my country.” the complainant speaks saying that it is “I’m very sincerely afraid” face to face a “such interference” in his personal life.

“Shocked” With Twitter’s failure to cooperate with justice, Aurélia Gilbert a “a kind of impunity” of the social network. This strengthens the authors of these messages, adds his lawyer Me Laura Ben Kemoun. They say, ‘I don’t care, they’ll never find me,’ and Twitter supports them.” Nicholas Heaney’s defense also says. Along the same lines, Me Antoine Vey, defender of Georges Salines, points to the changing geometry of Twitter. “When it comes to child pornography, they respond positively. For threats, it depends, and for insults, never. »

“The Bad Experiment We Did on Twitter”

The prosecutor also laments the lack of cooperation from American society. According to him, in order to force him to answer, the investigative service should have come up with a request for international assistance, not simple demands. “It takes a lot of time,” He knows the representative of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“What we’re doing on Twitter is a bad experiment,” Responding to me, Twitter’s attorney, Karim Bailouni, confirms that the company responds to requests from justice, provided they are sent through the correct channel. That was not the case here, he said, and requests were not sent to Twitter Ireland, the only body authorized to process European user accounts.

Then the argument becomes very legal. A necessity “in a legal precinct”, Mana is defended by Baylow, but knows full well that these tests are a platform and that it is also the image of the company that needs to be protected. “We need to get out of the position of saying that Twitter will be an American giant above the law in France. This is a lie and a caricature,” Beylouni assures me, added that the company is involved “Working group on combating online crimes (of the Ministry of Internal Affairs)”. Final clarification: The threat against Georges Salines was a tweet “removed in less than twenty-four hours”. According to information, the court’s decision will be issued on March 27.

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