France launches Twitter probe in racism test case

Nov 28, 2012
A Blackberry user in Quimper, France, clicks on the icon for the Twitter microblogging site. French police have opened a criminal investigation into a raft of anti-Semitic messages posted on Twitter in a case that could test the microblogging site's refusal to mediate content.

French police have opened a criminal investigation into a raft of anti-Semitic messages posted on Twitter in a case that could test the microblogging site's refusal to mediate content.

The move follows a complaint lodged last month by an anti- organisation that numerous messages posted on the site had breached French law prohibiting incitement to racial hatred.

The police probe, which is still in a preliminary phase, will focus on one specific message with a view to pressing charges punishable by up to a year in prison, judicial sources said.

France's Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) has been pressing to exercise tighter control of what appears on its site following a wave of anti-Semitic messages posted under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew).

Examples included "#agoodjew is a dead Jew" and other offensive were subsequently posted under #unjuifmort (#adeadjew).

The UEJF on Tuesday began a legal action aimed at forcing Twitter to identify the authors of some of the posts. A hearing on the application has been scheduled for January 8.

Twitter has refused to comment on the row, re-directing enquiries to its terms of service which state that it does not mediate content but may suspend accounts deemed to be producing .

In October, the site suspended the account of a neo-Nazi group in Germany following a request from the govermment in Berlin. It was the first time Twitter had acted on a request of that nature from a government.

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