German judge forces Twitter to be firm on hate and slander


Central Europe


Protesters against Twitter. Photo AFP, Philip Pacheco

Twitter must take a firmer stance on slander and hate speech. That follows from a decision on Wednesday of the German district court in the city of Frankfurt.

The judges ordered the service to actively remove illegal content that is displayed and also comments with “similar content” in which hate speech is repeated. Otherwise, Twitter could be fined for not doing this if there is a clear violation of personal rights. The German magazine PRO reports this.

The verdict is a win for Michael Blume, the anti-Semitism Commissioner in the German state Baden-Württemberg. Blume saw himself as the victim of a campaign on Twitter. He was accused of anti-Semitism, as CNE reported earlier this year. With the support of the Berlin consulting organisation HateAid, he took legal action.


The judge not only forces Twitter to delete unlawful tweets, but also to independently search for other messages with the same or similar statements. Such tweets must then also be removed. The same applies to tweets with content to be deleted that are shared more than ten times within 24 hours. Otherwise, the company could be fined 250,000 euros per case or imprisoned.

However, the court does not see a general obligation for Twitter to check the comments of its 237 million users, but only in the case of a specifically objected violation of personal rights. Comments had been posted against Blume that accused him of "proximity to paedophilia" and an "infidelity" and denigrated him as "part of an anti-Semitic pack". Therefore, the anti-Semitism commissioner had initiated an urgent procedure.

Josephine Ballon from the advisory organization HateAid praised the verdict because it almost completely upheld the complaints. The judgment is not final. It can be contested with an appeal to the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court.



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