Twitter says it disclosed details of French anti-Semitic users

(JTA) – Twitter has disclosed details of users in France who posted anti-Semitic messages, the U.S.-based website said.

Twitter said in a statement Friday that it had handed over to French authorities details about the users to end a legal fight that started last year, when several French anti-racist groups sued Twitter for allowing hate speech.

“Further to discussions between the Parties and in response to a valid legal request, Twitter has provided the prosecutor of Paris, Presse et Libertés Publiques section of the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, with data that may enable the identification of certain users that the Vice-Prosecutor believes have violated French law,” Twitter said in a statement to JTA.

Twitter declined to say how many users it reported or or what details it transmitted, but said the disclosure “puts an end to the dispute” between Twitter and the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, which sued Twitter last year along with several other anti-racism groups.

Last month, the Paris Court of Appeals upheld a Jan. 24 ruling that said Twitter must provide data on some users to the UEJF and four other organizations that filed a complaint against the company last November. The users were guilty of violating French hate speech laws and Twitter must release information about the offenders, the court ruled.

The complaint came after the hashtags #unbonjuif (“a good Jew”) and #unjuifmort (“a dead Jew”) became hugely popular because they were used in what Le Monde termed “a competition of anti-Semitic jokes.” Hashtags are labels used to index tweets on a particular topic.

Twitter argued in court that since it is an American company it adheres to U.S. laws and is protected by the First Amendment and its broad free speech liberties.

In its statement Friday, Twitter said that it and other parties “have agreed to actively continue contributing together to the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, in keeping with their respective domestic laws and regulations, such as by taking measures to improve the accessibility of the reporting procedure of illegal Tweets.”

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