Twit­ter sus­pends ac­counts linked to ex­trem­ist groups

The National - News - - NEWS - THE NA­TIONAL

Twit­ter ap­pears to have sus­pended the ac­counts of Hezbol­lah TV sta­tion Al Manar, as well as ac­counts af­fil­i­ated with Ha­mas-linked me­dia groups.

Al Manar’s Ara­bic, English, Span­ish and French ac­counts were un­avail­able yes­ter­day, although the ac­counts of spe­cific pro­grammes on the Le­banese sta­tion were still ac­tive.

Al Manar claimed Twit­ter made the move as a re­sult of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.

In Septem­ber, four mem­bers of the US Congress sent a let­ter to the chief ex­ec­u­tives of Twit­ter, YouTube and Face­book call­ing for the com­pa­nies to re­move ma­te­rial and ac­counts af­fil­i­ated with US-des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist groups.

Ac­counts linked to Hezbol­lah and Ha­mas were men­tioned in the let­ter.

Josh Got­theimer, who signed the let­ter along­side Tom Reed, Max Rose and Brian Fitzpatric­k, said YouTube and Face­book com­plied with their de­mands but Twit­ter did not.

In re­sponse to the let­ter, Twit­ter said its users were not al­lowed to ex­press an af­fil­i­a­tion with ex­trem­ist groups, use their in­signia, pro­vide or dis­trib­ute ser­vices to fur­ther an ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion’s goals, re­cruit for or pro­mote such groups. But Twit­ter said it made “lim­ited ex­cep­tions … for groups with rep­re­sen­ta­tives who have been elected to pub­lic of­fice through elec­tions, as is the case with parts of Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah”.

Twit­ter also said it drew a dis­tinc­tion be­tween the po­lit­i­cal and para­mil­i­tary arms of the or­gan­i­sa­tions. While the US does not recog­nise a dif­fer­ence be­tween the two arms of Hezbol­lah, the EU and sev­eral other states make a dis­tinc­tion.

Last month, the four con­gress­men sent an­other let­ter to Twit­ter chief ex­ec­u­tive Jack Dorsey about the use of the plat­form by or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Hezbol­lah and Ha­mas.

The let­ter called on Twit­ter to up­date its terms of ser­vice and re­move Hezbol­lah and Ha­mas-af­fil­i­ated con­tent and Twit­ter han­dles by Novem­ber 1, “con­sis­tent with our laws”.

It is not known if the de­ci­sion to re­move Al Manar was a di­rect re­sponse to the let­ter, which named the TV sta­tion specif­i­cally. Pro-Ha­mas news chan­nel Al Quds TV also ap­pears to have been re­moved.

“There is no place on Twit­ter for il­le­gal ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ist groups. We have a long his­tory of tak­ing strong en­force­ment ac­tion, us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of peo­ple, part­ner­ships and tech­nol­ogy,” a Twit­ter spokesman said.

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