Poe originally wrote a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller in September requesting an investigation into Twitter accounts used by terrorist organizations to recruit members and promote violence.
The Republican congressman claimed
that three groups — Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Shabaab — would lose more than a total of 53,000 followers if the FBI were to forcibly seize the accounts. It is not clear whether these numbers isolate for overlapping followers.
Hezbollah had 16,932 followers when Poe was researching social media engagements to include in his letter to Mueller. Now, though, the group has nearly 35,000. Either Hezbollah partnered with a really good public relations team and each of its 35,000 followers are destined for violence, or reporters and policymakers, too, likely follow the Lebanese militants’ moves as they would otherwise be doing on television.
But Poe sees things differently. He believes the recent attacks in the Middle East justify his request to the FBI, and he also sees it as Twitter’s patriotic duty to deactivate rogue accounts.
“Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,” he told The Hill
. “Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel.”
It’s difficult to see this as anything other than a reference to treason, which the U.S. Constitution defines as “giving [the enemy] Aid and Comfort.”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) agrees completely, and the organization began petitioning
the U.S. Attorney’s Office for removal of the accounts this week.
“[It] is illegal for any U.S. Company to provide ‘material support’ to a terrorist organization,” the form letter reads. “By allowing Hamas to have a Twitter account, you are providing it with an important ‘service’ and extremely effective ‘communications equipment’ which are central to its primary mission of terrorizing the Israeli people and using civilian deaths to score political points.”
CUFI’s statement once again begs the question: can innovators be punished for their users’ actions? If so, should Twitter be held responsible for IDF’s attacks on Gaza (about which the organization tweeted) even though many women and children were killed?
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