On Monday, Twitter Inc. began suspending accounts linked to Iran-backed militant group and terrorist organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas after U.S. lawmakers criticized Twitter for allowing extremist groups and entities like Hezbollah and Hamas to remain on its platform despite the State Department recognizing both as terrorist organizations.
Last month, bipartisan lawmakers wrote a letter to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, demanding the social media company stop allowing tweets from these terrorist-linked accounts.
On Monday, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (R-NJ)) posted the response he received from Twitter notifying him of the move—indicating both the English and Arabic language accounts of the groups were blocked and removed. The letter was co-authored by Reps. Tom Reed (R-NJ), Max Rose (D-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
“There is simply no reason why terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hazbollah, who have killed countless Americans and our allies, deserve access to U.S.-based social media platforms to promote themselves as sponsors of violent, radical, hate-filled extremism,” Gottheimer said. “This is a big day in the fight against the global war on terror.”
And right he is, especially after last week’s news that President Donald Trump announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following a two-hour raid conducted by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria on October 26th. The Pentagon has since released newly declassified video and images last week of the raid targeting the now deceased ISIS leader.
As predicted, while al-Baghdadi’s death was a major victory for not only the U.S., but for countries across the globe, ISIS recently named its new leader and successor to al-Baghdadi—Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi. Good god could that name be any longer? It’ll be interesting to see how he is referred to across the world—but irrelevant at the end of the day.
While President Trump claims he knew who the new leader already was, it’s difficult to discern whether the U.S. should be concerned with recent threats that ISIS will get its revenge on us for the death of its former leader.
According to Gottheimer, lawmakers will continue to monitor Twitter and other social media networks to ensure that all platforms deliver on their “commitment[s] to standing up to these threats from foreign terrorist organizations.”
Back in August, Facebook identified a network of disinformation campaigns that it alleges were executed by China in effort to fuel apathy toward the protesters in Hong Kong—at the time, Twitter removed close to 936 accounts that were part of a state-run operation to devalue the efforts in Hong Kong.
“If Twitter identifies an account as affiliated with Hamas or Hezbollah, Twitter’s policy is to terminate that account,” Twitter said in a statement. “We are in the process of reviewing the accounts identified in your letter and if we confirm that they are foreign terrorist’s organization accounts, they will be terminated.”
Twitter recently released its 15th Transparency Report, discussing the platform’s increase in proactively enforcing its user-base accounts.