Why is Elon Musk's Twitter being sued in Germany?

Twitter is facing a lawsuit in Germany over antisemitic content
Twitter is facing a lawsuit in Germany over antisemitic content Copyright Gregory Bull/AP
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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The organisations behind the lawsuit are hoping this will set an international legal precedent that will help communities around the world keep Twitter accountable

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 Twitter is facing a lawsuit in Germany for failing to remove anti-Semitic content on its platform. 

The lawsuit, filed by HateAid, a digital rights organisation, and the European Union of Jewish Students, argues the social media company has failed to its own rules when it comes antisemitic content. 

The organisation claims the tweets in question were reported to Twitter but not taken down. The platform even allegedly refused to remove one comment related to Holocaust denial, which is criminalised in Germany. 

Avital Grinberg, the President of European Union of Jewish Students described these posts as extremely shocking in an interview with Euronews.

"The tweets are truly disgusting, very scary, and saddening to read. We are not just talking about discriminatory speech. We are talking about hate speech that is illegal by German law," explained Grinberg. 

The case will try to determine whether Twitter is legally obliged to remove such material.

But what's unique about the case is that the organisation isn't suing Twitter on the basis of German law but on the platform’s own terms of service and rules as explains Josephine Ballon, head of legal at HateAid. 

"Every person that sets up a profile on Twitter has a sort of contract with Twitter. But no one is asking why Twitter is not sticking to the rules they gave themselves when it comes to the moderation policies on their platform," Ballon told Euronews. 

A study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that social media companies failed to act on 84% of content that contained anti-Jewish hate.

Twitter acted on just 11% of antisemitic posts reported, the second lowest rate across major platforms.

If this lawsuit is successful, the organisation hopes it will become easier for users to uphold their digital rights all over the world.

"When we succeed with this case, we will have a meaningful tool to hold Twitter accountable and to increase the pressure on the platforms," explained Ballon. 

"This could enable groups to file lawsuits for their own communities and do this all over the world because the terms of service are the same everywhere."

Euronews reached out to Twitter for a comment but have not received a response by the time this article was published.

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