It seems Twitter’s ability to give the voiceless a voice is a becoming a real problem and could land in it some trouble if a few Republicans have their way, reports the New York Times.
Texas Congressman Ted Poe, along with six unnamed Republicans, has sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) demanding that Twitter ban tweet from Hamas and Hezbollah, as they are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
“Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,” Poe said in his email. “Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their war on Israel.”
Poe’s demands are based on the United States laws that says that any person or group that offers material support such as monetary contribution, weapons and other tangible aid, which includes “service” and “expert advice or assistance” to terrorist groups is considered to be working with said group.
Nick Bilton in the NYT pieces presents an argument that “running AK-47s and rocket launchers to terrorists, and using Twitter, which allows groups to post 140-character missives online, are two very different things”.
The Congressman counters in an interview with Bilton saying that social media tools such as Twitter “are amassing more followers and threatening the security of the United States.”
He suggests that if terrorists bank accounts can be frozen why shouldn’t the same be done to their social accounts.
“We freeze terrorist organizations’ bank accounts, and we ought to freeze their Twitter accounts, too,” he said.
Poe’s letter has gained momentum due to the rising state of the crisis in Gaza after Israel killed Hamas’s top military commander and subsequent sharing of its Hamas conquests on YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest. Hamas unleashed an increased barrage of missiles in Gaza giving the crisis a prime media attention.
All these can fuel Poe’s argument who says that other organisations around the world are already taking doing the same thing as urges Twitter and the FBI to recognize the threat posed by social media.
“Anti-American foreign terrorist groups around the world are doing the same thing every day. The FBI and Twitter must recognize sooner rather than later that social media is a tool for the terrorists,” Poe added.
Although Hamas and other groups aren’t under the Constitution of the United States if Twitter agrees or is forced to, a ban could set a precedent for free speech online, especially in the Middle East where, arguably social media is the last form of democracy left, says Bilton.