Israeli minister demands Twitter close terror accounts, or face possible charges
NICOLAS ASFOURI (AFP/Archives)
Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan urged social media giant Twitter to deactivate accounts linked to terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, warning that the microblogging site could face possible criminal charges in Israel if it refuses to do so.
Erdan said Tuesday that he had penned a letter on the matter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, saying that it “is intolerable that organizations calling for the murder of innocents should be able to openly run Twitter accounts.”
He added that permitting content from terrorist groups on its site could constitute a violation of Israeli anti-terror laws and expose Twitter to criminal prosecution.
Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah are all considered terrorist organizations in Israel and the United States, and the European Union, though in the case of Hezbollah only its militant wing has been outlawed by the EU.
Speaking at the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem, Erdan said that Twitter has previously declined to remove content posted by terrorist groups on its site.
Twitter shares were hammered in March following a threat by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to take action against the company for not doing enough to counter messages that incite violence against Israel.
Shaked railed against Twitter, saying it has become the preferred social media platform for terrorists.
“The terrorist organizations switched to Twitter instead of Facebook. The reason is simple: Facebook responds effectively to our requests to remove the contents of terrorism, while Twitter ignores them,” Shaked said, adding: “We are considering legal action against them.”
Erdan revived Shaked’s complaints on Tuesday, saying that Twitter allows terror groups “to operate openly with little to no interference” noting that Hamas has run an official account since March 2015.
“Twitter, unlike other social media companies, has largely been irresponsive to requests by the Israeli authorities to remove terrorist content and shut down terrorist accounts," Erdan said, adding that the matter “may necessitate the initiation of legal and criminal proceedings” against the company.”
The popular messaging platform in 2016 came under significant pressure to crack down on "terrorist content" following attacks in Paris in November and southern California in December which were linked to supporters of the Islamic State group.
The company suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts "for threatening or promoting terrorist acts" during the crackdown and vowed to drive up enforcement against violence-promoting content.
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