A gay rights group in France has filed a complaint against Twitter for inciting hatred on its French site when the hashtags “gays must disappear” and “let’s burn gays” began trending last weekend.
Felicite-Esther Zeifman, attorney for the French committee of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), told the AFP the suit against Twitter is for “diffusion of a call for hatred against gay people.”
“These illicit tweets on Twitter’s site characterize the offense of public incitement to discrimination, to hatred or national, racial or religious violence,” the complaint said. “Despite alerts, Twitter allowed a homophobic atmosphere to develop on the social network and gave no serious response.”
Alexandre Marcel of IDAHO said Twitter did not delete a single homophobic tweet or hashtag from the site.
The French ministers for women’s rights and the digital economy released a joint statement Monday condemning Twitter.
“Incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence towards a person or group of people because of where they come from, their religion or their sexual orientation is against French law. These acts or words are punishable by law and the fact that they were delivered virtually does not make the people behind them any less punishable,” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and Fleur Pellerin said in a statement.
Del Harvey, head of safety for twitter, wrote from his account @delbius: “Twitter conforms to the laws of the countries in which it is present but does not proactively survey or filter content. If content is flagged as violating Twitter rules it will be checked and dealt with accordingly.”
Twitter gave data to the French authorities in July to help they identify Twitter users responsible for anti-Semitic tweets. Just what authorities do with that data is unclear, since anti-Semitism per se isn’t illegal in France.
“Let’s burn gays” was reportedly still trending on Monday. The hashtag was later removed, but homophobic tweets still appeared on the site.
Twitter recently added a “Report Abuse” button to its social media platform after women received rape and death threats on the site.