Twitter has been sued in Germany by an anti-hate-speech organization and Jewish students to force Elon Musk’s social media platform to block or remove antisemitic posts.
Six examples of antisemitic comments detailed in the suit were all posted in the last three months, since Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, Bloomberg reported.
One of the posts denied the existence of the Nazi Holocaust that killed at least 6 million Jews, which Twitter “explicitly refused to remove,” according to the suit.
Laws against Holocaust denial and other speech hailing Nazis and supporting antisemitism are particularly strict in Germany, which seeks to avoid revisiting the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II. Holocaust denial has been prosecuted as “sedition” under German law.
The suit, filed Wednesday in a Berlin regional court by HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students, argues that not only is the Twitter content “illegal,” but it also violates Twitter’s stated policies barring threats of violence and speech that incites hatred.
The suit argues that, if successful, all users could sue for the removal of hate content whether or not they are directly targeted.
“Twitter broke our trust. By allowing the distribution of hateful content, the company fails to protect users and especially young Jews,” Avital Grinberg, EUJS president, said in a statement. She added ominously: “What starts online does not stay online.”
The suit cited a 2021 study by The Center for Digital Hate stating that Twitter acted on only 11% of antisemitic complaints.
When Musk purchased the company, he slashed a huge number of workers who were tasked with monitoring and removing hate content. At the same time, Musk has allowed notorious neo-Nazis back on the platform.
A study after Musk’s purchase of the company found that the jump in hate speech had never been larger in the history of Twitter.
Before Musk bought the company, slurs against Black Americans showed up on Twitter an average of 1,282 times a day. After it was purchased by Musk, the slurs jumped to triple that figure, or 3,876 times a day, according to a study by the London-based Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that monitor online platforms.
Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Musk took over. Afterward, they jumped to 3,964 times a day, according to the data, The New York Times reported.
Antisemitic posts soared more than 61% in the two weeks after Musk acquired the site, researchers found. There was not only an increase in content attacking Jews and Judaism on Twitter but also a marked decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts, the ADL noted.
European leaders have already indicated that content on Twitter is illegal in the European Union and will be dealt with harshly.
Twitter, which no longer has a media relations department, could not be reached for comment.