Hezbollah supporters during a televized speech by the group's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah and its Al-Manar media outlet continue activity on US social media websites and even use a Miami-based Internet Service Provider despite legislation meant to stop it, Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of MEMRI – The Middle East Media Research Institute told The Jerusalem Post.
“For years, Hezbollah has persistently maintained its strong online presence; some social media companies, including Twitter and YouTube, have not once shut down any Hezbollah or Al-Manar accounts,” said Stalinsky, an expert on the use of social media by terrorist groups.
However, he noted, Facebook has repeatedly shut down Hezbollah, and iTunes and Google Play have removed Hezbollah and Al-Manar apps.
“As part of our work in our Cyber Jihad Lab, MEMRI has been monitoring Hezbollah on social media since this activity first began, over six years ago,” he said.
“Hezbollah was one of the earliest designated terrorist organizations to use social media, primarily for its Al-Manar television network, which is at the center of its propaganda effort and is banned in the US, across Europe, and in other countries.”
Furthermore, Al-Manar’s website has been hosted for more than two years and continues to be hosted by Miamibased ISP company Vault Networks, even though MEMRI has alerted the company that it is hosting a designated terrorist organization, continued Stalinsky.
A study MEMRI published on Wednesday notes that Congress passed the “Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015” on December 16, which requires a report to be presented to Congress within 90 days, or by March 15, which was Tuesday.
As the 90-day period came to an end, Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah’s account on the social media site Instagram was shut down, said the report.
Stalinksy explained that “the intent of this new legislation was to clarify that it is illegal for these US companies to allow these accounts to remain active or to provide Hezbollah and Al-Manar with any services.”
“Hopefully this MEMRI report on Hezbollah online activity with US companies will help lead to this legislation’s enforcement and to the permanent removal of this organization’s accounts and websites,” he added.
Social media websites where Hezbollah is still active, according to the report, include Telegram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.