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Twitter faces possible lawsuit over trending anti-gay hashtags

Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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A French gay rights group says it plans to file a law suit against Twitter for violating the country’s hate speech laws following the emergence of the hashtag “#Gays must die,” which topped Twitter’s “trending topics” over the weekend.

The French committee of IDAHO (the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), said Monday it would file the complaint against the U.S.-based microblogging site for allowing “the diffusion of a call for hatred against gay people,” reported The Local.

According to the IDAHO, nearly 10,000 tweets were posted using the hashtag #LesGaysDoiventDisparaitreCar (“Gays Must Disappear/Die Because”), about 900 of which directly called for the murder of gay people.

“This is a completely blatant call for the death and murder of gay people. It is totally unacceptable,” Alexandre Marcel from IDAHO told The Local.

“We support free expression, and we understand that there are some people who simply don’t like gay people, but this is a call for the extermination of the gay community,” he added.

“Twitter hasn’t deleted a single homophobic tweet, nor removed a single homophobic hashtag from its list of most popular trending terms.”

The report added that another hashtag, #TeamHomophobes also appeared over the weekend and on Monday, the hashtag #BrulonsLesGaysSurDu (“Let’s burn gay people)” also appeared to be gaining momentum on the site.

Although Twitter has responded to previous complaints about hate speech in France by removing inflammatory tweets, or by assisting French authorities to identify offenders, the company has yet to respond to this latest debacle.

The gay rights group SOS Homophobie has also launched an online campaign against Twitter, encouraging users to report instances of anti-speech, and IDAHO has launched a counterattack on the hashtag by tweeting it with contradictory phrases in support of the LGBT community.

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