Twitter Refuses To Identify Those Behind Anti-Semitic Tweets – But Should They?

Should those posting anti-Semitic tweets be protected by Freedom of Speech provisions in the U.S.? Well, Twitter won’t release user info unless compelled to do so by the United States government and the U.S. either has freedom of speech or it doesn’t (it does) – so, yes.

And this fact is REALLY getting under the skin of some students (and their lawyer) in France.

The Daily Mail reports that the “Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) and three other similar groups took Twitter to a French court asking them to hand over the names of all those responsible so they can be prosecuted.”

‘Because it does not take the necessary measures to identify where the tweets come from, Twitter is offering a platform to racism and anti-Semitism,’ said Jonathan Hayoun, the president of the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), in a statement on Monday.

But Twitter is not relenting. And much like what happened when it refused to comply with an Australian request to release people’s identities, many are ticked about what they’re calling Twitter’s “above the law” mentality.

Stephane Lilti, counsel for the Jewish groups, suggested Twitter had  a ‘commercial interest’ in protecting the anonymity of its users.

‘Twitter is playing a commercial game by raising a number of legal hurdles to not having to comply with its legal obligations,’ he told the court.

Is this a fair accusation to aim at Twitter though? Its guidelines for law enforcement are clear. The problem, it seems, lies in international free speech distinctions. If Twitter can’t pick just one standard and stick to it, how could it possibly enforce ANY policy? Someone may sign up for Twitter in one country and offend someone from another country – which rule applies? It gets super complicated if you sit and think about it for a minute,.

As it stands, Twitter clearly states that a U.S. subpoena or search warrant is necessary to reveal the identity of one of its users revealed.

Update: Adding the screenshot where Twitter mentions the U.S!:

Just what “private” information does Twitter have anyway? The basic stuff – like your Twitter handle, all of your tweets and profile photos and whatever bio information you’ve shared on your profile (even if it’s set to “private”). But they also have the email address you used to create the account – and your IP address. Oh and your browsing history. You know, enough evidence to make you denying you intentionally harassed ‘that person’ a bit difficult to swallow.

We’ll be watching for Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud’s verdict in this case on January 24.

What do you think should happen?

(Angry image from Shutterstock)