Twitter can keep Twitter, says Australian court

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young had a tweet linking her party with sex slavery removed and replaced with a more sympathetic one

An Australian Senator has won a court case against Twitter.

Sarah Hanson-Young’s tweet about child sex trafficking carried a link to an article about the Human Rights Commission.

Asking Twitter users to remove “ill-informed or defamatory material”, it deleted the tweet and replaced it with a softer message, “UNHOLY COMPARISON”.

Ms Hanson-Young had also taken the company to court last year.

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Justice Lucy McCallum of the Federal Court said on Wednesday that she accepted Twitter’s defence that the tweet had not “made a direct or material reference to [Ms Hanson-Young’s] character, background, conduct or reputation”.

“Ms Hanson-Young’s reputation was not sufficiently tarnished by the defamatory material for it to satisfy the test under the anti-vilification laws,” she added.

The judge found Twitter’s role in criticism was “limited to quashing or removing irrelevant information”.

She did, however, say that the company “had the power to moderate the content which it hosts” and “can, in fact, assert that such moderation takes place on its behalf”.

Twitter, which was not represented in court, said in a statement that “those who misuse the platform are accountable”.

“As the court has noted, Twitter’s support teams work around the clock to ensure a safe and respectful experience, as it has been for the last six years,” it added.

Ms Hanson-Young, a Greens senator, had argued that using the phrase “ill-informed or defamatory material” was an example of the company limiting criticism of her.

Her lawyer said the court had found that the linking of her remarks to an article supporting trafficking was “meaningless and irrelevant to the question whether the senator’s remarks in this tweet about child sexual slavery were considered ‘defamatory’.”

The senator said the decision “should send a message to others using social media that they must take their actions seriously”.

“This is no time for glib statements,” she added.

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