News Column

French Prosecutors Probe anti-Semitic Messages on Twitter

Nov. 28, 2012

Prosecutors in Paris have begun a preliminary investigation into a string of anti-Semitic messages that appeared on Twitter last month under the hashtag #unbonjuif (a good Jew), French radio reported Wednesday.

The investigation comes after the National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) filed a criminal complaint, saying the messages constituted hate speech. The complaint targeted both the authors of the messages and Twitter, as the conduit for the content, the BNVCA's President Sammy Ghozlan told dpa.

France Info radio said the investigation was focusing on the author of a single tweet, which declared "A good Jew is a dead Jew."

The #unbonjuif hashtag was launched on October 10 and quickly attracted a flood of messages. Some of the messages joked about the Holocaust. Others railed at or openly attacked Jews.

On Tuesday, the Union of French Jewish Students issued Twitter with a summons, demanding the company hand over information on the authors of the tweets. A court hearing has been set for January.

The union had already approached Twitter last month with a request to remove offending tweets.

Twitter itself did not comment on the affair but the students' union said Twitter acceded to its request.

The company is wary of being seen to censor content but reserves the right to block content in specific countries if the tweets violate local laws. The company last month agreed to block a neo-Nazi account at the request of the German government.

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Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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