Twitter failed to remove anti-Semitic tweets when reported, says nonprofit bringing legal action against company

Elon Musk's Twitter account displayed on a mobile with Elon Musk in the background are seen in this illustration. In Brussels - Belgium on 19 November 2022. (Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
In Elon Musk's first two weeks at the helm of Twitter, the number of anti-Semitic posts soared over 61%, per The New York Times.Jonathan Raa/Getty Images
  • A German nonprofit and a student group say they reported six anti-Semitic tweets to Twitter.

  • But Twitter said three of those didn't violate its terms of service, The Guardian reported.

  • Twitter said it blocked those tweets, but only after being notified about legal action in June.

Twitter is facing legal action from a nonprofit and a Jewish student group who are accusing it of failing to remove anti-Semitic tweets, The Guardian reported.

HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students said they alerted Twitter to six tweets — which included Holocaust denial — back in January, but Twitter said some of these didn't violate its terms of service.

According to The Guardian, four of the tweets directly denied the Holocaust; one compared it to COVID vaccination programs; and another called for a genocide against Black people.

Twitter then said that three tweets — including one which called the Holocaust "the biggest lie of the 20th century" — didn't violate its guidelines, and didn't respond to the other reports, according to the legal action seen by The Guardian.

That account is still active, and just one of the four mentioned by The Guardian has been suspended.

Insider contacted Twitter for comment. The company responded with an automated message that didn't address the inquiry.

Twitter's policy on hateful conduct says: "We prohibit targeting individuals or groups with content that references forms of violence or violent events where a protected category was the primary target or victims, where the intent is to harass." It cites the Holocaust as an example of this.

The tweets were all posted after Elon Musk purchased the platform last October. In his first two weeks at the helm of the company, the number of anti-Semitic posts soared over 61%, The New York Times reported. Twitter then appeared to disband its council responsible for safety measures after three of its members quit in December. Twitter has seen at least three executives resign from the safety team since Musk's takeover.

Twitter was notified about the legal action by the court in Berlin, Germany in June, and there will be a hearing later this year if it decides to defend it, per The Guardian.

The newspaper reports that Twitter told HateAid and the EUJS on June 15 that it had blocked the tweets — although some were only hidden from German users.

Germany has strict laws about Holocaust denial and Nazi sympathies, punishable by up to five years in prison.

"Twitter broke our trust. By allowing the distribution of hateful content, the company fails to protect users and especially young Jews," said Avital Grinberg, the EUJS president, in a press release. "What begins online does not end online. In doing so, Twitter cultivates real hatred and violence and disregards our democratic values."

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