A French prosecutor has convinced Twitter Inc. that it has a duty to expose users who express hatred anonymously on its platform. Although the social media giant initially insisted that users had a right to anonymity, it emerged Friday that Twitter has relented.
The prosecutor sought Twitter's compliance for a lawsuit brought in October 2012 by the Union of Jewish Students of France and three similar groups that asked Twitter to remove a number of messages that used the hashtag #agoodjew; one such message was "#agoodjew is a dead Jew."
Twitter's lawyer, Alexandre Neri, originally argued that the company was subject to U.S. law and that only a judge in America could force the company to release such information. However, he acknowledged that differences between French and U.S. laws on freedom of speech created a "huge void, a question mark."
France has strict laws that combat hate crimes, and officials now plan to bring charges against people they allege use the Internet service to commit such crimes.
A Twitter spokesman said the company will provide prosecutors "data that may enable the identification of certain users that the Vice-Prosecutor believes have violated French law," according to AFP. Some of that data includes geo-coordinates showing where the tweets were posted.
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Twitter also agreed to "improve the accessibility of the reporting procedure of illegal tweets."