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OFFBEAT

Race row tourist: worse things happen in France

A young Frenchwoman at the centre of a racism row in Australia has said an incident in which she was abused on a Melbourne bus has been blown out of proportion, according to her aunt.

"I had an email from her this morning. Above all what she wants is that it does not become a row about xenophobia because it isn't one," Annie Desaintjores, an aunt of Fanny Desaintjores, told AFP.

"The scene was filmed by an amateur who made a big deal of it," she added.

"It has been depicted as an example of xenophobia but, as she said in her email, worse things happen in France and it doesn't become a diplomatic incident. It has also been blown out of all proportion by the media and that's a shame."

The aunt added that her 22-year-old niece had no intention of cutting short her stay of up to nine months in Australia.

Melbourne police are investigating the incident in which Fanny Desaintjores was on the end of a torrent of threatening abuse from other passengers on the bus, who were apparently provoked by her singing in French.

One demanded she "speak English or die" and threatened to cut her breasts off while another man shouted: "I'll fucking boxcutter (knife) you right now, dog."

Ted Baillieu, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, has condemned the incident as "absolutely disgraceful" and urged the public to help identify those responsible.

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COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

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 Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

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 businesses 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.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

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