Since Elon Musk took over the helm at Twitter at the end of October, the news service has been struggling with bad company news and above all with a loss of staff.

The result of the dismissal of entire teams and personal resignations is that central functions such as content control and compliance with regulatory requirements are insufficiently or no longer staffed.

This poses problems for Twitter in Germany, where the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) ​​requires hate speech and illegal statements to be removed within certain time limits upon request.

Marcus Young

Editor in Business.

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A legal dispute began on Thursday afternoon at the Frankfurt Regional Court, which could have far-reaching consequences for Twitter.

In an urgent procedure, Michael Blume, anti-Semitism commissioner of the Baden-Württemberg state government, demands the immediate removal of numerous defamation and so-called core-same content on the entire platform.

These should also no longer be allowed to be published in the future (Az. 2-03 I 325/22).

HateAid and Jun helped Künast win

Blume sees himself as the victim of a smear campaign directed against him.

Although he and his lawyers reported 46 tweets, these remained available online.

Instead of adhering to the NetzDG and checking the content for illegality, Twitter followed its own guidelines.

Only days later did the platform operator block the account from which the campaign largely originated.

Not enough from Blume's point of view, who is now accusing Twitter of being largely responsible for the spread.

"Hate must not be a business model," Blume is quoted as saying in a Hateaid statement.

The organization, which is committed to the observance of human rights in the digital space, supports the test case in Frankfurt.

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, Managing Director of HateAid,

sees in Blume's fate not an isolated case, but a pattern.

“We experience again and again that platforms simply let targeted hate campaigns run despite knowledge and ignore reports from those affected.

The aim of the procedure is to have Twitter obligated to remove all tweets or existing core-like content across the platform.

For this, HateAid is once again working together with the Würzburg lawyer Chan-jo Jun;

together they helped the Green politician Renate Künast to win against Facebook in court in April.

Jun made sure that Facebook can be expected to search and check the entire platform.

He wants to repeat that.

"For the question of what is spread or removed on Twitter, the law applies and not the political sensitivities of a billionaire," explains Jun, such mirror rules have to be worked out in test cases.

Twitter and Musk would leave the moderation of content to algorithms – which, according to the IT lawyer, only works with swear words, “but not with slander where the truth cannot be determined in the wording.”

The Twitter lawyers point out that the company is not obliged to transmit criminal content.

This emerges from a brief that Jun, as the lawyer for the other side, published excerpts on the Internet on Thursday night.

There it is stated in a passage that the Federal Republic of Germany has assured Twitter International that the Federal Office of Justice "will not order any measures against Twitter International that they require to transmit content according to Section 3 (2) NetzDG”.

Twitter is suing NetzDG

The federal government has also pledged that it will not initiate “any measures against Twitter” under the NetzDG until urgent administrative proceedings are also pending.

As critics fear, the platform operator is once again above the law.

The fact is: In Cologne, Twitter and other platform operators are suing against the obligations under the NetzDG.

The company is taking urgent action and a main action against the Federal Office of Justice, which as the supervisory authority monitors compliance with the NetzDG (Az. 6 K 820/22 and 6 L 140/22).

When asked about the assurances given by the federal government to Twitter, a court spokeswoman pointed out to the FAZ that this was part of the obligations.

Both procedures are still pending.

It is still unclear when a decision will be made in the urgent procedure.

A request to the Federal Office of Justice remained unanswered until Thursday afternoon.

At the end of January 2022, immediately after the lawsuits became known, the Federal Ministry of Justice admitted that a standstill had been given in order to enable the Cologne administrative judges to make an appropriate decision.

A circumstance that Blume's lawyer probably only became aware of during the night.

"You fight for years against platform operators who shamelessly break German law and learn from the opponent 14 hours before the start of the trial that it is their own government that is secretly and unnecessarily stabbing me in the back," Jun complained - probably deliberately on Twitter .

At the time of going to press for this task, it was still unclear in which direction the Chamber in Frankfurt is tending.