January 18, 2019

Lawfare Project Succeeds In Taking Down Anti-Semitic Content Online

The Lawfare Project’s February legal action in Spain has already begun to show success with some online anti-Semitic content being taken down.

The Lawfare Project had sent out cease-and-desist letters in February to Facebook, Yahoo and Google warning them they would face lawsuits if they didn’t comply with Spanish law and take down anti-Semitic content on their platforms, which included Holocaust denialism. According to a press release from The Lawfare Project, three instances of anti-Semitic content have been taken down in response.

“Two of the items removed were articles published on some of Spain’s most popular conspiracist websites, denying the Holocaust while simultaneously blaming Jews for Nazi atrocities,” the press release states. “The third was a thread in a forum that spread the medieval style blood libel that Jews carry out ritual murders of children.”

One of the authors leads a Spanish far-right organization who apologizes for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has been on panels in Iran that openly engage in Holocaust denialism. The Holocaust denial articles were taken down by the authors and the manager of the forum took down the ritual blood libel.

While this is certainly progress for The Lawfare Project, Google and Yahoo have not acquiesced to their cease-and-desist letters. According to Lawfare Project Spanish Counsel Ignacio Wenley Palacios, Google hasn’t taken down the content in question because the legal issue was “complex” and Yahoo hasn’t responded to the letter.

“We are determined to take further steps to demand the enforcement of the law from search engines and social media platforms, and we will file lawsuits if they continue to tolerate blatantly racist and offensive content, when they have been effectively informed by detailed take-down notices,” Palacios said in the press release.

In total, The Lawfare Project plans on filing 10 total court proceedings against IT companies between 2018 and 2020.

As Palacios told the Journal in February, the tech platforms in question tend to be “erratic” when it comes to applying their policies of content being taken down, and should they proceed with their lawsuit there’s a good chance The Lawfare Project would win.

“Our actions are very nuanced, and meet the highest of European standards on free speech, and on liability of Internet providers, matching closely the reasoning of the case-law of both the Supreme Court of Spain, and the European Court of Human Rights,” Palacios told the Journal in an email.