Tech

Elon Musk’s Twitter Hit With Holocaust Denial Hate Speech Lawsuit In Germany


Twitter owner and self-proclaimed “free speech absolutistElon Musk faces legal trouble in Germany over how the platform handles anti-Semitic hate speech.

of lawsuitThe case was filed yesterday in the Berlin District Court by the campaign groups Hate Aid and the European Union for Jewish Students, campaigners against hate speech. (EUJS) argues that Musk-owned Twitter has failed to enforce its own rules against anti-Semitic content, including Holocaust denial.

Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and there are strict laws against it Anti-Semitic hate speech — making the Berlin courts a fascinating arena for hearing such challenges.

“[A]Twitter prohibits anti-Semitic hostilities in its rules and policies, but the platform leaves such content online. claim. “Current research proves that 84% of posts containing anti-Semitic hate speech are not reviewed by social media platforms. Digital Hate Countermeasure CenterThis means that Jews are being publicly attacked on the platform every day and Twitter knows that anti-Semitism is becoming normal in our society. is never enough. ”

Musk has repeatedly insisted that he respects all laws of the countries in which Twitter operates (Including European Speech Law). Although he has yet to make any public comment on this particular lawsuit.

Since CEO of Tesla It took over Twitter at the end of October Last year, he cut Twitter’s headcount significantly, including core safety features like content moderation, and also cut staff in regional offices across Europe, including Germany. Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council dissolved We have also reinstated a number of accounts that had previously been banned for violating Twitter’s rules. This creates a seemingly ideal situation for hate speech to spread unchecked.

There have been anecdotal reports about Musk’s tenure. the study — suggesting an increase in hate on Twitter. Many former users have blamed the increase in hate and abuse for abandoning the platform since he took over.

Notably, the lawsuit focuses on examples of hate speech posted on Twitter in the past three months since Musk took charge. bloombergpreviously reported on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit thus applies an outside lens to how platforms are enforcing their anti-hate speech policies in an era of precarious (and drastic) operational restructuring under the watchful eye of new owners. So it looks like an interesting legal test for Musk.

The billionaire libertarian generally tries to deflect criticism that he’s channeling Twitter into toxic waters, but in a variety of ways. rejectionfishing for booster rhythms, targeted attacks on critics, and ongoing self-aggrandizement (or quasi-professionalism) to become the future handmaiden of human civilization by “freeing the birds” as he tweets. What he cites as a neo-enlightenment speech (“reform”) — he acknowledged an early surge of hate on the platform in November.

At the time, a Twitter engineer tweeted a chart explaining his claim that he had succeeded in reducing the impression of hate speech by a third from “pre-spike levels” (he tweeted). He also suggests that the spike is only relevant to a small number of accounts, not because content moderation has become much less effective since he took over and set about tearing up the existing rulebook. bottom.

Musk seems to enjoy cultivating the impression that he is a “free speech absolutist”, but as is the case with Cosmic Cowboy, the truth appears to be non-binary.

For example, Twitter has made a series of decidedly unilateral and arbitrary decisions about whether to censor (or not) certain posts and accounts. Image of swastika with Star of David. The latter is a Jewish symbol, the former a Nazi emblem.

Or, it lifted the ban on former US President Donald Trump’s account, which was suspended after a violent attack on the US capital by Trump supporters, but Musk appears to be opposing Jones’ infamous conspiracy falsity. InfoWars’ hate preacher, Alex Jones, was adamantly refused to be resurrected because it looks like The Children was the actor who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Other decisions Musk has made regarding content moderation on Twitter seem driven by purely self-interest. For example, banning accounts that tweeted his private location of his jet (which he called “assassination coordinates”). Last year, he also suspended a number of journalists who covered the episode. Criticism that he censored press freedom.

But even without banning journalists, Musk literally invited a handful of hacks to sift through internal documents. twitter file — looks like a bare (but very boring) bid to shape a narrative about how the platform’s previous leadership handled content moderation and related issues. It fuels conservative conspiracy theories and advocates systematic shadowbans and/or content downgrades against liberal views.

(actually research Looking at Twitter’s pre-mask algorithmic amplification of political tweets, on the contrary, its AI actually gave more support to right-wing views, concluding: . Algorithmic amplification over the mainstream political left. ” But who cares about non-cherry-picked data?)

As for abuse and hate, Musk can also spread it on Twitter. He is disproportionately at risk of being abused, including transgender and nonbinary people whose pronouns he deliberately mocks.

Musk also bowed to tweets and amplification Targeted attacks against individuals It has led to an abusive pile-on by his followers, including the example of Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, fleeing his home. Hypocrisy about personal safety risks? very.

Even a casual observer of Musk-Twitter would conclude that the Chief Tweet’s decision-making is inconsistent. If this arbitrariness leads to incomplete and partial enforcement of platform policies, it’s bad news for Twitter’s trust and safety. users (and her RIP to the concept of “conversational health” on the platform).

It remains to be seen whether Musk’s contradictions will also lead to a German court order requiring Twitter to remove illegal hate speech through this HateAid-EUJS lawsuit.

“Twitter’s actions are based solely on its own opaque rules that rely on the fact that users have no opportunity to appeal, for example when it comes to not removing incitement to hate,” Hate Aid said in a statement.

“There has not been a single case of a social network being prosecuted by the authorities. This is why civil society must be involved and seek ways to demand the removal of such content. We will act as representatives of affected communities who are being incited to hostility and hatred by , thus putting pressure on the platform in the long run.”

Interestingly, the lawsuit does not appear to have been brought under Germany’s longstanding hate speech removal law. NetzDG — At least on paper, regulators are empowered to sanction platforms up to tens of millions of dollars if they don’t promptly remove reported illegal content.

However, as Ballon points out, there were no indictments against NetzDG related to content removal violations (although messaging app Telegram soon Small fines apply for violations related to not having proper reporting channels or legal representation).

A local attorney, who was not directly involved in the HateAid-EUJS case, said there was some sort of tacit agreement between federal authorities and social media companies that Germany would not enforce NetzDG on content moderation issues. suggested. The Digital Services Act, which will begin to apply to large platforms later this year, will harmonize bloc-wide governance and content reporting rules under a single pan-EU framework to replace Germany’s old hate speech regulatory regime. , eyeing the upcoming EU digital regulation. .

Litigants in this hate speech lawsuit against Twitter question whether individuals (and advocacy groups) can sue in court for the removal of “punitive, anti-Semitic and inflammatory content” such as Holocaust denial. , said he wanted to clarify legally. Even if you are not personally insulted or threatened by the content.

in the FAQ of web page Detailing their arguments, they explain [emphasis theirs]:

Whether this can be claimed will be decided by the court. At this time, it is unclear to what extent Twitter users have the right to request removal of such content under Twitter’s rules and policies, if they themselves are not affected. Twitter believes it must adhere to its own rules, which it boasts in its terms and conditions — to remove anti-Semitic posts and make Jews feel safe on the platform;

By our actions, we honor Twitter’s contractual commitments. We believe platforms should remove anti-Semitic content – Obviously, the platform has to force it to do so.

If successful, they hope it will make it easier for users to assert their rights to remove illegal content. Even against other major platforms. As such, if the lawsuit is successful, it could have broader repercussions.

This basic process requires the courts to clearly demonstrate that platforms like Twitter, under their own user agreements, are obligated to protect their users from anti-Semitic digital violence. thinking about. “Such decisions will make it easier for users to assert their rights against major platform operators in the future. The principle behind it is simple. Where the terms of our agreement prohibit hate speech, Twitter is obligated to remove hate speech from our users. This could be done, for example, by NGOs such as HateAid to make the internet safer. ”

Twitter was contacted to respond to the lawsuit, but since Musk took over the platform, it has waived regular external communication capabilities and has yet to respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment. still asked.)

It’s worth noting that, before Musk, Twitter didn’t get overwhelming praise for its success in tackling illegal hate speech.

Dating back to November, the latest EU report to monitor EU anti-hate speech code — A voluntary agreement signed by Twitter and many other social media platforms over the years I found that the performance was relatively poor compared to . , the Commission reported that it removed just 45.4% of such content within 24 hours (63.6% total removal rate). , Twitter had the second highest number of illegal hate speech reports (Facebook had the most), with just under 1,100 reports. As such, it appeared to host a relatively large amount of illegal hate speech (vs. peer platforms) and seemed to lag behind its rivals in the speed at which it removed illegal content.

So it will certainly be interesting to see the state of these metrics if (or if) Musk-owned Twitter reports a new batch of data to the commission later this year.





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