(photo credit: Courtesy of Twitter homepage)
Social media giant Twitter could face legal action in US courts if it continues
to allow terrorist organizations al- Shabaab and Hezbollah to use its services,
the Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin) warned over the weekend.
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Center has sent a letter to Twitter CEO Richard Costolo, warning that the
company could fall foul of strict US anti-terror legislation by providing social
media services to organizations designated as terrorist groups under US
Over 7,700 people follow the Hezbollah- affiliated al-Manar TV’s
Twitter account. Al-Manar’s tweets link back to its Arabic-language news site,
which includes articles condemning the “Zionist Enemy Entity” alongside a photo
gallery of Hezbollah “martyrs” and a video library of speeches by Sayyed Hasan
Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader.
The US lists al-Manar TV as a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist entity.
Somali-based al-Shabaab, which tweets
in English under the username HSM Press Office, has over 7,200 Twitter
followers. Its user profile explains that al-Shabaab is “part of the global
struggle towards the revival of the Islamic Khilaafa [Caliphate].”
Center Director Nitsana Darshan- Leitner said that by permitting al- Shabaab and
Hezbollah to run accounts, Twitter is violating US antiterror laws.
Darshan-Leitner cited a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court, which found that
US-based NGO the Humanitarian Law Project had contravened the USA PATRIOT Act,
prohibiting providing material support to designated terrorist
Darshan-Leitner told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that in Holder
Humanitarian Law Project, the NGO had tried to use freedom of speech
arguments in its defense but had failed.
Twitter and its CEO Costolo
could be similarly criminally and civilly liable for any future attacks against
US citizens carried out by the groups, the Law Center said.
networking sites have been praised for their role in helping facilitate popular
uprisings in the Middle East, including the Arab Spring. Iran’s “Green
Revolution” in support of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi was dubbed the
“Twitter Revolution” after protesters used the network to
However, the sites have also attracted criticism for
allowing hate speech. In May last year, the Israel Law Center wrote a warning
letter to Facebook, after the social networking site allowed Palestinians to
create a page calling for a “third intifada” against Israel.
subsequently took the page down, Darshan-Leitner said, and hoped Twitter would
do the same.
“There is no reason to facilitate terror organizations,”
“We expect that once we bring this issue to
Twitter’s attention, they will move to remove the accounts.”
not respond to a request for comment on the issue.