In a major setback to the micro-blogging site Twitter Inc., a French court has ordered Twitter to provide access to all of its details on its efforts to tackle racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.
According to a Reuters report, several French social media activist groups had taken Twitter to court last year to know what it was doing to clamp down hateful content on its platform. The anti-discrimination activists had accused the social media giant of failing persistently for a very long time to block hateful comments from the site.
On Tuesday, the French court presided over by magistrate Fabrice Vert ruled in favour of the anti-discrimination activist group ordering Twitter to grant these activist groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020.
In its ruling, the court said Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the efforts it had put into fighting “homophobic, racist and sexist discourse” on the site, as well as the offence of “condoning crimes against humanity”.
Explain the rationale behind employing moderators to scrutinize hate content: French court
The court also asked the micro-blogging site to explain the rationale behind employing moderators in France, who examine and process the posts that users flag as hateful. Interestingly, the court ruling to open up Twitter’s global operation to activists’ scrutiny is not just limited to France but across the world.
The court has given Twitter two months to comply with the ruling, to which Twitter responded by saying that it was studying the court order.
“Our absolute priority is to assure the security of people using our platform,” said Twitter, adding, “We commit to building a safer internet, to combatting online hate and to improving the serenity of public discourse.”
Meanwhile, the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), which had filed the case against Twitter alongside five other groups, have welcomed the judgement saying, “Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion”.
Lately, social media giants have been criticised for not only doing far too little to address online abuse but have also accused of promoting accounts that incite violence, propagate hate speech against nationalists and conservative social media users.
However, several countries, including India, Nigeria have woken up to the arbitrary functioning of these big-tech companies and are trying to enforce new stricter laws to make social media companies accountable to domestic laws. For example, in India, the Modi government enforced a new set of IT rules to bring transparency in the functioning of social media companies. But, Twitter has failed to comply with the rules citing its own company policies.