LONDON: Twitter is being sued in Germany for failing to remove antisemitic content from its platform.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday by an anti-hate speech organization, HateAid, and the European Union of Jewish Students, who accuse the social network of not deleting six posts attacking Jewish people and denying the Holocaust, after they were reported.
“What starts online does not end online,” said Avital Grinberg, president of the EUJS.
“Twitter broke our trust. By allowing the distribution of hateful content, the company fails to protect users and especially young Jews.”
According to the two organizations, Twitter’s refusal to remove the content represents a violation of the platform’s terms and conditions.
In Germany antisemitism and Holocaust denial are criminal offenses.
The lawsuit is set to establish whether Twitter’s decision violates a contract between the platform and its users and whether the latter has the authority to enforce the site’s terms and conditions.
HateAid and EUJS also argue that the case’s outcome may indicate whether users can sue for the removal of violating content in the future, even if they are not personally impacted by it.
“We have put the control over the public discourse on the internet into the hands of private companies and investors. Twitter assures it will not tolerate violence on its platform. Users have to be able to rely on that,” said Josephine Ballon, HateAid’s head of legal.
“But in practice, we see the opposite happening: Illegal content is at best removed in arbitrary and untransparent ways. This must finally change. Twitter owes us a communication platform where we can move freely and without fear of hatred and agitation.”
On Tuesday, the white supremacist and far-right provocateur Nick Fuentes was reinstated to Twitter and returned to the social media platform with a volley of antisemitic posts and comments, including praise for Adolf Hitler.
Since Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, hate speech on the platform has significantly increased.
According to reports by hate monitor groups the Anti-Defamation League and the Center for Countering Digital Hate, antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent since October.
In an earlier analysis, CCDH found that the majority of the time, social media companies failed to act on antisemitism, anti-black racism, sexist abuse, and vaccine disinformation, with anti-muslim content not being deleted in 89 percent of cases.
According to some experts, Musk’s restructuring of Twitter, which resulted in the layoff of more than 60 percent of the company’s workforce, has had a significant influence on the increase.