Twitter under pressure to freeze terrorist accounts

‘Twitter is soon becoming a tool for terrorist,’ lawmaker says.

World’s major microblogging site Twitter is under pressure from six US lawmakers to freeze the accounts of Hezbollah and Hamas, arguing the social networking site gives the two organizations an opportunity to propagate their hatred against the US, contrary to the law.

US Republican lawmakers headed by former judge Ted Poe say the two organisations, currently listed on the US department’s list of terrorist organisations, have been allowed to send hate messages and mobilise war against the Jews.

“Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their war on Israel,” Poe said in a statement.

He says that Twitter is becoming a tool for terrorists.

According to the US law, any person or group offering material support such as contributing cash, weapons and other tangible aid, including service and expert advice or assistance to terrorist organisations is essentially working with them.

Poe says constant increases of followers on Twitter are threatening the security of the United States.

“We freeze terrorist organizations’ bank accounts, and we ought to freeze their Twitter accounts, too,” he added.

The move is believed to have been heightened by the recent Hamas and Israeli war that saw a fierce exchange of words between Hamas and the IDF spokesman.

In Africa Al Shabaab, another terrorist organisation on the US list of terrorist organisations, also has an account with over 17,000 followers that has been spreading propaganda against African armies under AMISOM trying to liberate the country from the militia.

The debate also coincides with the HumanIPO debate on whether Congolese militia M23 should be allowed to continue operating their Facebook account.

The move is, however, expected to come under intense pressure from civil organisations advocating for freedom of speech and expression.

“I think it’s as contrary to the First Amendment as openness is the enemy to extremism and fundamentalism,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School

He adds that the FBI is in the best place to learn more about the groups by letting them operate in the open.

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