Twitter Suspends Accounts Affiliated With Hamas, Hezbollah

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Twitter responded to pressure from a group of U.S. representatives and suspended accounts affiliated with terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah this past weekend.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the account suspensions, saying, “There is no place on Twitter for illegal terrorist organizations and violent extremist groups. We have a long history of taking strong enforcement action, using a combination of people, partnerships and technology.”

Affected accounts included Hamas’ English-language and Arabic-language handles, as well as those belonging to television station Al-Manar, which has been linked to Hezbollah, and Quds News Network, which is affiliated with Hamas.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) initially sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Sept. 17 requesting the takedowns.

After Dorsey’s response did not satisfy them, they sent another letter, in which they wrote, “We were surprised to learn that Twitter’s process for determining terrorist organizations differs from that of the U.S. … We were equally surprised to learn that Twitter ‘may make limited exceptions’ for ‘parts of Hamas and Hezbollah’ … We ask that you, as a U.S. company, immediately update your policy consistent with our laws and, by Nov. 1, remove Hamas- and Hezbollah-affiliated content and Twitter handles.”

Twitter director of public policy and philanthropy, U.S. and Canada Carlos Monje Jr. kept up the correspondence, saying in his reply letter to the four lawmakers, “Twitter’s policy is to remove or terminate all accounts it identifies as owned or operated by, or directly affiliated with, any designated foreign terrorist organization. If Twitter identifies an account as affiliated with Hamas or Hezbollah, Twitter’s policy is to terminate that account. We are in the process of reviewing the accounts identified in your letter and if we confirm that they are foreign terrorist organization accounts, they will be terminated.”

Monje added that the social network’s process is to identify whether the group is an extremist group and review information that it has access to on whether the group targets civilians and/or promotes violence.

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