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Published on 22 May 2020

France - Online Hate Speech: Antisemitic hashtag trends on Twitter France

A Twitter trend emerged late Monday in France, prompting outcries of unchecked antisemitism just days after French lawmakers passed sweeping online anti-discrimination legislation.

As soon as the #Sijetaitunjuif came out, Crif called on Twitter France to limit its spread.

Twitter quickly informed us that they had acted so that the # no longer appeared in the "trends of the day" (TT) and that their moderators were carefully monitoring the hashtag.

 

Published on May 19, in Newsweek

The hashtag #sijetaitunjuif, which translates to English as "If I Was Jewish," began appearing at the tops of French users' Twitter feeds Monday as a barrage of tweets hit the social network mocking the Holocaust and touting terrorist attacks against Jews. Pro-Jewish groups, journalists and French lawmakers alike blasted the emergence of such a blatant antisemitic trend despite Twitter and Facebook's recent agreement to comply with the European countries' strict online anti-racism measures.

Last week, France's parliament passed a new bill, known as the Avia law, requiring websites to delete offending content within 24 hours or face massive fines.

Dozens of vitriolic posts making light of the Nazi death camps were posted to Twitter in the past 24 hours, including one shared widely in screenshots which reads, "I would use my grandfather's grave as an ashtray." And another tied to the "If I Was Jewish" hashtag trend which read, "I will put the family in the oven to continue the tradition." An alternative spelling, version of the hashtag translated to "throw out the Jews."

Update: A Twitter spokesperson sent Newsweek the following statement in response : "As per our Help Center, there are Rules for trends and we stopped this hashtag from trending as it is in violation of the Twitter Rules. If people on Twitter see something that violates the Twitter Rules, the most important thing they can do is report it, by clicking the drop down arrow at the top of the Tweet and selecting 'Report Tweet.' We have zero-tolerance policies in place that address threats of violence, abuse and harassment, and hateful conduct. If we identify accounts that violate these rules, we'll take enforcement action."

After months of pressure from the French government to comply with the Avia law and other online anti-discrimination orders, the American companies of Twitter and Facebook recently agreed. After meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to hand over to judges any data the company has which could identify the French users suspected of posting hate speech.

Back in America, the social media giants have taken diverging paths in terms of political ads, hate speech and policing posts. Last year, Twitter announced its first iteration of policies that banned political ads just weeks after Facebook controversially implemented a policy where most political ads posted to the social network are not fact-checked.

After months of pressure from the French government to comply with the Avia law and other online anti-discrimination orders, the American companies of Twitter and Facebook recently agreed. After meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to hand over to judges any data the company has which could identify the French users suspected of posting hate speech.

Back in America, the social media giants have taken diverging paths in terms of political ads, hate speech and policing posts. Last year, Twitter announced its first iteration of policies that banned political ads just weeks after Facebook controversially implemented a policy where most political ads posted to the social network are not fact-checked.

 

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