Sun Jan 27th, 2013 at 05:50:17 AM EST
[The Daily Hoist: featuring an item or items from the day's Newsroom]
France orders Twitter to identify racist users - FRANCE - FRANCE 24
Microblogging site Twitter must hand over data to help identify users who post racist and anti-Semitic comments, a French court ruled on Thursday.
Twitter was the subject of legal action by Jewish student group the UEJF and other associations, following a swathe of postings in October using hashtags (which group and identify postings according to a theme) including #UnBonJuif [A Good Jew] and #UnJuifMort [A Dead Jew].
Twitter deleted some posts, but this did not stop users continuing in the same vein, with popular hashtags appearing in December and January such as #UnBonNoir [A Good Black] and #SiJetaisNazi [If I was a Nazi].
The conflict between the doctrines of free speech (primary in the USA) and the suppression of incitement to hatred (important in much of post-WWII Europe) enters the digital domain ever more. It's old staple that the web offers extremists new, more covert and secure ways of communication, organisation and recruitment. But it's one thing if they do it on obscure websites of their own, and another when they are out in the open on the big social websites.
I have been observing for some time that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are rather unwilling to curtail far-right activity, and the limited tools available to submit complaints have been created with only the US American situation in mind (mentioning "protected groups" and rights groups, think ACLU; complaint accepted only if the racist insult hits you personally). When it comes to foreign extremists, they don't even know what those are about or don't take them seriously.
For example, about a month ago, I came across the YouTube channel of a Finnish neo-Nazi: the background image and the user's avatar was a stormtrooper with a swastika flag, the 'welcome message' told foreigners, Muslims and liberals to FOAD in three languages, all comments of the channel owner under other people's videos were racist abuse or praise for Nazis, and the three uploaded videos were snuff videos of racist violence (with the uploader's commentary in Finnish making that clear). Using YouTube's flagging feature, I flagged all three videos, the images, and the channel owner himself (with several comments as evidence). But only two videos were taken down, ones showing wanton attacks in Greece and Portugal. The third video (taken from the top Hungarian far-right news site, showing a man slapping two pushy beggar Roma kids so hard they fell over) could stay, the images and abusive texts too, and the guy could continue with his racist spam comments, until he was finally banned a week or two ago.