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German Court Rules Twitter Has to Remove Offensive Posts Before They’re Even Reported

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A German court ruled that Twitter had a responsibility to monitor and remove offensive posts, even when the offended person has not reported them.

The lawsuit was filed by Michael Blume, a government official campaigning against antisemitism in the state of Baden-Württemberg. His account was littered with posts falsely accusing him of cheating on his wife with minors, being an antisemite, and supporting pedophiles.

Blume reported 50 tweets, but they remained online for more than a week and were only removed after the account that posted them was suspended.

Non-compliance with the law carries a fine of up to €5 million.

The court ruled that Twitter had an obligation to delete the tweets and monitor and remove similar posts.

“Twitter is violating German law with its inadequate efforts to combat hatred,” said Blume’s lawyer, Chan-jo Jun. “But we got something more: the ruling that Twitter has a duty not only to remove the illegal content that is reported, but also to track down fundamentally similar content anywhere on the platform, from any account, and ensure that it ceases.”

Jun added to the AP, “If someone wants a quick injunction against Twitter or Facebook, they would simply need to go to the same court…There’s a path that’s been beaten here and now it’s of course easier to follow.”

The verdict can be appealed within a month.

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