In a case that could have broader implications for social media users’ ability to ensure the enforcement of platforms’ terms and conditions, Meta’s social media platform Twitter is facing a lawsuit in Germany over its refusal to remove antisemitic content.
The digital rights organization HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) filed a lawsuit against Twitter in a Berlin court on Wednesday arguing that the platform’s refusal to remove the material, which, among other things, contained trivialization or denials of the Holocaust, is in violation of its Rules and Policies.
The suit centers on six pieces of content reported to Twitter for their antisemitism.
According to HateAid and the EUJS, the violating content includes illegal and antisemitic comments and sedition under German law, but Twitter explicitly refused to remove one comment related to Holocaust denial even after the material was reported to the platform.
They argue that this way, Twitter violated its own policies on hateful conduct and abusive behavior through which the platform committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice, or intolerance.
These policies also prohibit any content that denies mass murder or other mass casualty events – such as the Holocaust- that took place.
Noting that the control over the public discourse on the internet is put into the hands of private companies and investors, Josephine Ballon, HateAid’s Head of Legal, says that despite its pledges to not tolerate violence on its platform, Twitter acts completely the opposite in reality.
She points out that Twitter must put an end to the practice of removing illegal content in arbitrary and untransparent ways at best, underscoring that it owes its users a communication platform where they can move without fear of hatred and agitation.
As Ballon explained, this case could determine if this breaks the contract between the platform and its users and whether the latter has a right to sue for enforcement, even in cases in which the violating content is not affecting them personally.