The French Government has suggested that the social networking company Twitter should be fighting against homophobic, anti-semitic and racist tweets that potentially break its laws on hate speech.
In recent months, offensive hashtags have begun to trend including #SiMonFilsEstGay (if my son was gay), – users who used them speculated on the what pain, torture or other degrading treatment they would inflict on a gay child or other relative.
Others included #UnBonJuif (a good Jew), #UnJuifMort (a dead Jew), #SiMaFilleRameneUnNoir (if my daughter brings home a black man) and #SiJetaisNazi (if I were a Nazi) where users listed various fascist or racist acts they would perform.
Earlier this week, the French Union of Jewish Students appealed for a judge to force the social network to disclose the personal details of those who tweeted under the anti-Jewish hashtags so that they could be prosecuted.
Although the social network agreed to remove the offensive posts, it refused to hand over the personal details of those who posted them arguing that a Californian court order would be required in order for it to do so.
Alexandra Neri, Twitter’s lawyer said: “We’re not fleeing our responsibility. Our concern is not to violate American law in cooperating with the French justice system. Our data is stored in the US, so we must obey the rule of law in that country.” The court will rule on the case on the 24th January.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister for women said that Twitter must respect “the values of the French republic” and put in place security measures to censor hate speech.
Fleur Pellerin, minister for the digital economy told local television: “I think it’s in their interest to adapt to the legal, philosophical and ethical culture of the countries in which they’re seeking to develop. ” She added: “They know that they have to adapt to other cultures, legal [systems] and to appreciate the fundamental freedoms of the countries where they operate and I think they’re open to discussion.”
Last year the University of Albertaʼs Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services published Twitter tracking figures to show that the word “faggot” was used more than 2.5 million times between July and September 2012. In just one week, it was in 219,000 tweets.
Meanwhile, the phrase “So Gay,” was in 900,000 tweets, while another 800,000 had “No Homo.” The word “dyke” came across in 350,000 comments.