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Twitter trolls’ ‘coup’ against Italy’s president to be probed

Rome's public prosecutor's anti-terrorism section is to probe hundreds of Twitter accounts demanding the resignation of President Sergio Mattarella in the midst of an Italian government crisis in May.

Twitter trolls' 'coup' against Italy's president to be probed
Photos: AFP

The Twitter accounts popped up as Italy was mired in political chaos on the evening of May 27 after a days-long standoff over the composition of Italy's government cabinet.

President Mattarella vetoed the nomination of fierce eurosceptic Paolo Savona as economy minister, enraging the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League and prompting their prime minister-elect to step aside.

That night, nearly 400 Twitter accounts calling for the president to resign were created in a few minutes before being deleted within hours, according to a police inquiry, the reports said, adding that the probe, which will open next week, would be led by the anti-terrorist section of the Rome public prosecutors' office.

Ministers in the new government, however, said they were unconcerned by the allegations.

“I was not aware of it and it does not worry me in the least,” Interior Minister and League head Matteo Salvini said in an interview published Saturday in the daily Il Foglio.

“It's been months since I read that the Russians are influencing Brexit, the US, French and Italian elections. For me it is total nonsense,” added the minister, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

DISCRIMINATION

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.

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