Twitter sued in Germany to enforce scrutiny of anti-Semitic posts

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Twitter Inc. was hit with a lawsuit in Germany by an anti-hate speech organization and a European group of Jewish students in an attempt to force the platform to remove anti-Semitic content.

HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students have filed a lawsuit against Twitter to require the platform to clarify basic obligations when moderating criminal content, a statement said on Wednesday.

The suit, which was filed in a Berlin court, refers to six anti-Semitic posts that were not removed despite being reported. In one example, the plaintiffs argue, a Holocaust denial message was explicitly rejected. Holocaust denial is a criminal offense in Germany.

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All of the hate speech examples cited in the case were posted in the past three months, after the social media giant was acquired by Elon Musk. Since acquiring the company, Musk has overseen the firing or departure of about 5,000 of Twitter’s 7,500 employees.

In early January, Bloomberg reported further cuts to Twitter’s already radically diminished trust and safety team that deals with global content moderation. At least a dozen jobs were lost in the Dublin and Singapore offices, within teams handling the social network’s disinformation policy, global calls and state media.

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“What starts online doesn’t end online,” said EUJS President Avital Grinberg. “Twitter betrayed our trust. By allowing the distribution of hateful content, the company fails to protect users and especially young Jews.”

By filing this lawsuit, HateAid and EUJS said they are trying to determine whether Twitter users have a legal right to enforce the company’s terms and conditions. They claim that this will allow users to sue for the removal of inflammatory content in future cases.

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In the announcement, the civil rights groups reference a 2021 report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found that Twitter took action on 11% of the 137 reported cases of anti-Semitism on the platform.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo: Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Photo credit: Constanza Hevia/Getty Images

Copyright 2023 Bloomberg.

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