ADL Reacts to French Court Decision on Anti-Semitic Messages on Twitter

New York, NY, January 25, 2013 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to the decision by a French court ordering Twitter to unmask individuals who had posted virulently anti-Semitic and racist messages on the social networking site.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

ADL is committed to reducing the prevalence of anti-Semitic and other hate speech on the Internet.

With respect to the circumstances surrounding the French court order to Twitter demanding the identification of the person who posted anti-Semitic content on that service, we welcomed Twitter’s removal of the anti-Semitic content at issue last October.  Prompt response by social media platforms to concerns over hate content is critical to reducing the prevalence of online hate.

The important thing is that the content is no longer there to harass and intimidate victims, to incite potential violence against innocent people, and to suggest to uninformed readers that such repugnant views are acceptable.   We encourage Twitter and other social media companies to continue to exercise their right and obligation to protect readers from harmful, hateful content.  We also encourage them to recognize that the posters of such content hide behind the anonymity afforded to anti-Semitic and other hate-filled, harassing, intimidating and potentially violence-provoking posts and are emboldened to continue to use social media platforms to spread their ugly messages.

Whether the French court order can or should be enforced in the United States gives rise to complicated issues of French legal interests versus American legal interests.  While the law may be one tool in the fight against online hate, we believe that the best antidote to hate speech is counter-speech which exposes its deceitful, false content and promotes the values of respect and civility.  While the purveyors of online hate are free to express their odious views, they should not hide behind the mask of anonymity afforded to them by the internet and the companies whose platforms they use.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.