Louisiana residents are probably aware that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have spread like wildfire around the world. Due to the international nature of these sites, certain legal issues have recently arisen regarding freedom of speech, which is protected and guaranteed to all US citizens under the first amendment of the US constitution. The question, however, is what happens to that right when a US social media company operates abroad?
Twitter is now entangled in business litigation in France involving this very issue. Approximately one year ago, a court in France ordered the social media website to identify its online users who tweeted anti-Semitic remarks and other hate speech on its site. In France, there are laws on the books which restrict hate and racially charged speech online.
The Union of Jewish French Students has sued the company for $50 million for refusing to comply with the court’s order. The company is asserting that it is governed by the laws of the United States. It is unknown how this interesting business law case will turn out, but it raises issues that may be increasingly common due to the globalization of so many businesses.
Business litigation can be complex and difficult to understand. If a business is the subject of a lawsuit, it is important to explore all the legal options available to protect the interests of its shareholders. In order to avoid unnecessary litigation, careful attention should be paid when drafting leases, operating agreements and purchase agreements. This attention to detail upfront will avoid costly business litigation later.
Source: Hashtags.org, “Twitter Faces $50M Lawsuit Over Controversial Hashtag,” April 1, 2013.