After the US lawmakers recently criticized Twitter for letting Iran-backed Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas use it, the social network banned the accounts owned by the two militant groups.
Twitter recently saw a lot of criticism for allowing Iran’s Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas — the two militant groups that are considered terrorist organizations — to freely use its network. The platform responded by quickly suspending all accounts belonging to the two groups, including the ones in English and Arabic.
After suspending the accounts, the company also released a public statement, claiming that ‘there is no place on Twitter for illegal terrorist organizations and violent extremist groups.’ Interestingly enough, the move came after Twitter previously said that it distinguished between political arms and the military of the two groups.
Lawmakers Calling for a Total Ban on Terrorist-Related Accounts and Content
House members are seemingly becoming more strict about what should and shouldn’t be found on social networks. Earlier this year, in September, they sent a direct letter to executives of several largest platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, demanding that they remove all content and accounts belonging to terrorist groups.
Furthermore, House members also wanted to know how the platforms distinguish content from Hezbollah and Hamas from other similar groups that were proclaimed terrorists. Twitter’s response did not please the authorities, and they requested that the company updates its policy and be consistent with the US laws.
Facebook and Google apparently had satisfying answers, so they managed to avoid such sharp reactions. Facebook’s spokeswoman stated that the company has been banning terrorists whenever they attempted to use the platform, while Google itself has strict policies that ban all accounts that violate its rules. The same rules also determine what is and isn’t allowed on YouTube, as well.
Twitter’s Reaction Is a “Win for the Fight on Terror”
Representative Josh Gottheimer, one of the House members who signed the letter to Twitter, stated that terrorist organizations should not be allowed access to social networks, where they could promote themselves. He also praised Twitter’s compliance, calling it a win for the fight on terror.
However, the development shows that social media still struggles to define its rules and create working policies that would ban illegal groups while not damaging the freedom of speech for legitimate users. It also shows that lawmakers have a lot of influence on social networks.
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