Tweeters conspire to skirt French election ban

Twitter turned to talking in code on Sunday night so as to not break the 8pm embargo on election results.

Current French laws mean anyone who reveals exit polls before the curfew would be subject to a €75,000 fine. But savvy social media users easily bypassed this by using clever analogies.

Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy became Tokaji, a Hungarian wine, after his Hungarian heritage. Some referred to him as Rolex, after his “bling-bling” persona, or even his watch removal gaff last week.

Hollande became Gouda (made in Hollande), or the rather uncomplimentary “flanby” – a soft French caramel dessert – in reference to his recent weight loss.

Tweets such as “Dutch cheese at 27 euros, Tokai wine at 25 euros” revealed exit polls long before the 8pm deadline.

Some tweeters started referring to candidates’ personal lives to get the information across: “Carla Bruni has changed her Facebook status from “Married” to “It’s complicated”.

A photo was even fabricated showing Bruni holding a ballot card which read “Call me Francois. Change is now” – a play on the Social Party candidate’s campaign slogan.

Despite many of the tweets being made in jest, France’s polling commission are taking any tweets that allegedly broke the law very seriously.

The head of the commission, Jean-Francois Pillon, told AFP he would be asking the prosecutor to draw up charges against any “individual or media organisation” who may have done so.

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Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency

Twitter has appealed a French court decision that ordered it to give activists full access to all of its relevant documents on efforts to fight hate speech, lawyers and a judicial source said on Saturday.

Twitter appeals French court ruling on hate speech transparency
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone. Twitter has appealed a French court judgement requiring it to share documents with activist groups. Photo: Alastair Pike / AFP

In July, a French court ordered Twitter to grant six French anti-discrimination groups full access to all documents relating to the
company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applied to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter has appealed the decision and a hearing has been set for December 9, 2021, a judicial source told AFP, confirming information released by the groups’ lawyers.

Twitter and its lawyers declined to comment.

The July order said that Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fight homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as the offence of “condoning crimes against humanity”.

It also said Twitter must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

READ ALSO: French court orders Twitter to change smallprint over ‘abusive’ methods

The July ruling gave the San Francisco-based company two months to comply. Twitter can ask for a suspension pending the appeal.

The six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The groups campaign against homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media giants it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.