Twitter loses French case over its hate speech measures

According to a Thursday French court ruling, US tech giant Twitter must provide detailed information regarding how it fights online hate speech, as there is strong criticism against the company’s current measures.

On Thursday, January 20, an appeals court in Paris upheld a lower court ruling that Twitter must provide every detail about its measures to fight online hate speech. The case was initiated by a group of French anti-discrimination NGOs that strongly criticised the US tech giant for not removing but a mere fraction of hateful content that appears on its platform, even 48 hours after it was flagged. Twitter International, which is responsible for the company’s services outside of the US, appealed a 2021 July decision.

According to the court ruling, Twitter will have to provide specific details about its employees who police content appearing on its French platform – details regarding the number, nationality, location and spoken languages of those responsible. The company was ordered to provide details on how it allocates funding and human resources to tackle discriminatory speech, reports the Deutsche Welle. Moreover, the appeals court apheld the lower court ruling that Twitter must pay €1,500 in damages to each of the plaintiffs in the case.

Twitter faces several legal battles in France, including a Paris case in which the three plaintiffs suffered online harassment and sue Twitter France, claiming that the company refused to provide identifying information about the harassers to the investigators.

Nevertheless, Twitter France claims it is outside of its jurisdiction to decide whether to cooperate and provide data, for it not store any information locally. All data is handled by Twitter International in Dublin. Still, prosecutors are seeking fines of up to €75,000 against both Twitter France and its Director-General, Damien Viel personally, who ducked responsibility altogether.