Twitter complied with demands by U.S. lawmakers to stop allowing known terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to use their platform. Several accounts affiliated with these groups were suspended yesterday following bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to stifle them on the microblogging site.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers accused Twitter last week of aiding designated terrorist groups and their proxies by allowing them to use the platform. Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Tom Reed (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) accused Twitter of “blatantly violating US law.” Initially, Twitter rebuked them for their demands, prompting many to assume they were not going to comply.
The group first reached out to Twitter last month. Carlos Monje, Twitter’s US director of public policy and philanthropy, wrote in response that “Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation.”
“All individuals accessing or using Twitter’s services must adhere to the policies set forth in the Twitter rules,” Monje said in his response. “There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities.”
Monje explained that Twitter distinguishes between the political and military factions of these organizations.
“We may make limited exceptions for groups that have reformed or are currently engaging in peaceful resolution processes, as well as groups with representatives who have been elected to public office through elections, as is the case with parts of Hamas and Hezbollah,” Monje said.
The lawmakers, outraged by the response, demanded Twitter take action.
Terrorist organizations often use Twitter to spread their propaganda and recruit new members. Americans on both sides of the political aisle have criticized Twitter for allowing terrorists to use their platform, especially at a time in which “hate speech” gets people suspended easily. These accounts were not always careful about their own hatred for Israel and the United States, but Twitter has treated them with the same broad leeway they’ve given to politicians and world leaders in recent years.
It seems demands and accusations from Capitol Hill were enough to change their mind.
It’s a touchy subject because many, including us, have been fighting for proper free speech worthy of American freedoms to reign on social media. But we have drawn the line based on the law rather than opinions of the censors who want “hate speech” loosely defined and easily banned. By using a legal standard for their terms of service, they can prevent activities like doxxing, pornography, and making threats without upending the spirit of free speech. What Hamas and Hezbollah did on the platform falls under a different law: aiding and abetting terrorism.
Social media censorship is rampant. Legal free speech should reign across the board for Americans. But terrorists who kill Americans and our allies are the exception. Kudos to Twitter for this move, even if it was compelled by threats from DC.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
[gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”false”]