Members of Congress petitioned Twitter on Wednesday to ban accounts linked to several foreign terrorist groups, including the Palestinian Hamas organization, according to a letter sent to the social networking site.
The 16 lawmakers urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove “all content promoting terrorist activity,” including banning “senior Hamas officials and associates from Twitter who radicalize individuals to incite violence against Israelis,” according to a statement issued by the members.
Twitter has emerged as a leading platform for militant groups and their leaders to communicate their radical messages. While the social networking site has worked to crack down on speech it considers hateful and dangerous, including the banning of radical political figures on both the far left and right, it has a mixed record when it comes to Islamic radicals who use the service to promote terrorism.
Some lawmakers and advocates have argued that Twitter could be providing material support to these terror groups by allowing them a platform, which is prohibited under federal law.
“Congress has already determined that providing material support, resources, and intangible assistance to a [Foreign Terrorist Organization] is a federal crime,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), and Joe Wilson (R., S.C), co-chairs of the House Republican Israel Caucus.
“Furthermore, the Supreme Court has upheld that federal law prohibiting individuals and groups from providing material support to FTOs does not violate the First Amendment,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is imperative that Twitter, a United States Company, bans designated FTOs, removing all content promoting terrorist activity.”
While Twitter has taken steps to ban these accounts as they sprout across the platform, the lawmakers maintain that further action is warranted, particularly when it comes to terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS, all of which have used Twitter to promote violence and radicalism.
The lawmakers warn that if Twitter does not take action on its own, they will consider legislative measures to ban these accounts.
“Over the past several years, Twitter has made some progress by removing terrorist content from groups such as ISIS and Hezbollah,” the lawmakers write. “However, more needs to be done to eradicate the spread of all terrorist activity by designated FTOs.”
“Hamas follows a comprehensive charter that calls for the murder of every Jew and the destruction of the State of Israel through the covenant of Jihad,” they wrote. “Hamas is well known for firing rockets and digging terror tunnels into Israel, murdering and kidnapping Israelis, and using women and children as human shields. Every year, Hamas uses Twitter to gather mass participation for its ‘Days of Rage’ against Israel.”
“Hamas, and other terrorist organizations use Twitter to recruit members, and praise ‘martyrs’ that kill innocent Americans and Israelis,” the letter states. “Hamas is recognized as a designated terrorist organization by not only the United States, but the European Union and Canada as well. That is why we also urge you to ban senior Hamas officials and associates from Twitter who radicalize individuals to incite violence against Israelis.”
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