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Twitter under fire over 'let's burn gays' hashtag

14 Aug 2013

A trending anti-gay topic on Twitter has been removed after a French Gay rights group launched a lawsuit against the site for inciting homophobic hatred.

Angered by trending topics such as "gays must disappear" and "let's burn gays", the group has filed a complaint against the company for failing to prevent the abuse.

As a result of the vile tweets, French committee of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) slammed the site, which advocated the murder of gay people.

"These illicit tweets on Twitter's site characterise the offence of public incitement to discrimination, to hatred or national, racial or religious violence," lawyer Felicite-Esther Zeifman told AFP.

"Despite alerts, Twitter allowed a homophobic atmosphere to develop on the social network and gave no serious response."

In a desperate attempt to diffuse the situation, Twitter's safety chief Del Harvey took to the site to explain the company's stance, claiming content must be flagged before action can be taken.

"Twitter conforms to the laws of the countries in which it is present but does not proactively survey or filter content," he wrote.

"If content is flagged as violating Twitter rules it will be checked and dealt with accordingly".

Harvey's comments have done little to quieten the criticism however, with French ministers Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and Fleur Pellerin calling for legal action against the culprits.

"Incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence towards a person or group of people because of where they come from, their religion or their sexual orientation is against French law," an official statement read.

"These acts or words are punishable by law and the fact that they were delivered virtually does not make the people behind them any less punishable."

Following a wave of hate-filled tweets during the past month, including rape and murders threats against a female activist, Twitter has released a Report Abuse button to accompany every tweet.

But given the morons responsible for such horrendous slurs clearly have no brain, will a simple button help prevent a worrying problem which continues to grow within social media?

How can Twitter effectively clamp-down on such vile abuse? Tell us your suggestions below