PARIS — Twitter is one step closer to having to provide more information on how it fights hate speech online.
On Thursday, a Paris appeals court upheld a previous ruling from July, which ordered the U.S. platform to share documentation with nongovernmental groups detailing how it moderates content, according to the decision obtained by POLITICO.
The case pits Twitter against a group of four NGOs, including SOS Racism, SOS Homophobia, the Union of French Jewish Students and J’accuse. They asked for access to Twitter’s internal information on content moderation to prove that the U.S. company is not doing enough to fight hate speech online.
“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop dithering and think about ethics instead of profit and international expansion. We now expect Twitter to apply its obligation of transparency and to execute without delay the decision issued today,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
The French case touches on a core issue when it comes to platform regulation: the actual means — human and financial — allocated to the moderation of illegal and harmful content.
A French court’s July ruling, upheld Thursday, stated that Twitter had to provide very incremental data about how it polices material online, including the number, location, nationality and language of the people in charge of processing French content flagged from the platform. The court also said the company had to give information on the number of posts reported on the grounds of promoting crimes against humanity and inciting racial hatred; how many of them were removed; and how much information was transmitted to the authorities.
The decision comes only days after France’s new content moderation rules came into force, which are expected to target Twitter but do not force platforms to disclose such detailed information.
In Brussels, lawmakers have this week also adopted the European Parliament’s position on the EU’s Digital Services Act, which could set reporting obligations for online platforms on the number of content moderators.
Twitter can still refer the French case to the country’s highest court — the Cour de Cassation — as a last resort to try to have the ruling overturned. A spokesman for the company said that the platform was “looking into the decision.”
“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of people using our platform. We are committed to building a safer internet, fighting online hate and improving the serenity of public conversation,” the spokesman added.