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October 17, 2012 11:53 am

Anti Defamation League Slams Twitter Over Hate Speech

avatar by Zach Pontz

Twitter bird. Photo: wiki commons.

After a recent antisemitic trending hashtag on Twitter and a barrage of offensive comments, The Anti-Defamation League released a statement Tuesday slamming the social media website. The hashtag “#GoodJew” or #UnBonJuif in French became one of the most popular hashtags on the site in France, prompting a host of offensive remarks. Comments were posted to the site mocking customs and reinforcing antisemitic stereotypes. One such user posted this comment poking fun at some Jews’ restrictions on eating pork: “I don’t know where this burger is from but it is fabulous (I gave the bacon to a random #goodjew).” More offensive comments included, “#UnBonJuif = a picture of a handful of ashes,” and “#UnBonJuif is a dead Jew.”

“When free expression crosses the line into speech that society recognizes as an affront to individuals’ human dignity and as thinly veiled calls for violence, then the service provider has a responsibility to establish acceptable boundaries,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director said in the stament .  “It is time for Twitter to set some boundaries.”

He continued: “Twitter is fast becoming the Internet’s distribution platform of choice for bigots who use it to get their messages of hate out in 140 characters or less. Twitter’s terms of service lag far behind other established social media platforms in setting standards which would provide a basis for Twitter to block or remove racist, hate-filled tweets and re-tweets.”

Twitter has come under fire in recent weeks for the offensive hashtags it has hosted. The Nazi swastika is one such hashtag that gained popularity, prompting offensive remarks and 63,537 mentions in one day alone.

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Twitter has no terms of service or community standards that address offensive or malicious behavior on the service, unlike other popular social sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Twitter also does not provide even the most basic “Flagging” mechanism for complaints which is widely used on platforms run by Google and Facebook.

For its part, an agency representing Twitter in France told The Huffington Post’s French website that Twitter has not yet taken a position.

“Twitter does not moderate its content. They will evaluate the situation when a complaint is filed,” the agency said according to a translation.

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