#UnBonJuif (A Good Jew)

A Good Jew Hashtag

in October 2012, the French Twitter hashtag #Unbonjuif (“A Good Jew”) began to trend as thousands of Twitter users began what Le Monde, the French daily newspaper, described as “a competition of anti-Semitic jokes”, with examples such as “A good Jew is a dead Jew”.

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Anti-semitic image posted by Serre Fion 8-9, a Twitter user participating in the #Unbonjuif hashtag 

Twitter is increasingly running up against European anti-discrimination laws, many of which date back to the aftermath of the Holocaust as governments realised the potential for hate speech to transform into genocide. Twitter’s censorship of the hashtag marks a new stage for the social media platform that has previously refused efforts to expose its rogue users.

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Twitter user, Marcel Leblanc trivialises a Holocaust victim in his #Unbonjuif tweet.

Twitter’s policies require international users to comply with local laws regarding acceptable online conduct. French law forbids all discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality, race or religion. Twitter’s inactivity regarding the hashtag prompted the Union of Jewish French Students to threaten to sue Twitter for ignoring French laws regarding hate speech. Twitter subsequently removed the anti-Semitic tweets with the offending hashtag, only to be accused of hindering freedom of expression.

Naturally, stricter regulation of Internet speech is unpopular with liberal-minded users.  Jeffrey Rosen argues that social media platforms shouldn’t try to regulate public debate. Rather they should see themselves as “democratic spaces where all values are up for debate.”
Too good to be true? Within days of the French government banning #Unbonjuif, the bulk of tweets carrying the hashtag turned from anti-Semitic slurs to denunciations of anti-Semitism, confirming that users may be capable of regulating the online world for hate speech by themselves, without heavy-handed intervention.

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An example of Rosen’s contention that users can regulate social media for themselves.

Want to know more about the #Unbonjuif scandal? Click here to read about the tension between free speech and regulation.

 

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3 thoughts on “#UnBonJuif (A Good Jew)

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