JEWISH communities are calling for action after more than 18,000 hate-filled messages appeared on Twitter this week.
Several Jewish associations have filed complaints with the state attorney over anti-Semitic messages posted after Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid to win the Euroleague title.
After several high-profile incidents, the Spanish government has launched a legal attack against hate speech on Twitter.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez said: “We feel that this kind of behaviour, to the extent that it encourages hate, must be prosecuted.
“That is why we are going to analyse ways to address new legal instruments to combine freedom of expression and information with the right to one’s honour, privacy and safety.
In theory, internet users should abide by the same laws set for threats, slander, humiliation and glorifying terrorism as they would when offline.
But Elvira Tejada de la Fuente, the attoney in charge of computer crimes, insisted that it is not possible to apply to ‘incitement to hatred’ provision to every case of online insults.
The crime is punishable by up to four years in prison, for ‘those who either directly or indirectly encourage, promote or incite hate, hostility, discrimination or violence’.
Carlos Fernandes, manager of the Policia Nacional’s Twitter account, said: “The problem is there are people who don’t know what constitutes a crime.”
The police themselves tweeted: “‘I hope they die (or there’s a bomb)’ is a shallow, stupid thing to say, but it is not a crime.”