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.
Twitter also agreed to "improve the accessibility of the reporting procedure of illegal tweets."
Malik Singleton covers manufacturing and other economic news. His previous roles were with City Limits, TIME.com, Black Enterprise and PCMag.com. He is an adjunct at CUNY's...