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US lawmakers call out Twitter for allowing Hamas and Hezbollah on the platform

4 House members tell CEO Jack Dorsey they were alarmed to learn social media giant ‘draws a distinction between the political and military factions’ of terror groups

Members of the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Members of the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Four members of the US House of Representatives have called out Twitter for allowing Hamas and Hezbollah to maintain a presence on its social media platform.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Tom Reed and Max Rose of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday that they were alarmed to learn that Twitter “draws a distinction between the political and military factions of these organizations,” quoting from Twitter’s initial response to their concerns.

The congressmen said in their letter that the distinction “is not meaningful nor is it widely shared,” noting that Hezbollah and Hamas are designated as terrorist organizations by the US government.

Carlos Monje, Jr., Twitter’s director of Public Policy and Philanthropy for the United States and Canada, wrote in a letter last month to the congressmen that they assess cases individually and in the context of terrorism designations.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities. … We assess organizations and individuals under our violent extremist group criteria and are additionally informed by national and international terrorism designations,” the letter read.

However, the lawmakers called on representatives of the social network to explain their methodology to Congress.

“If you believe that Twitter is better at determining violent extremist content than the United States Government’s interagency process, then we urge you to come testify before Congress to explain your own process and how it differs from that of the State and Treasury Departments,” the lawmakers said in their letter.

In this October 9, 2016 photo, Hezbollah fighters stand atop a car mounted with a mock rocket, as they parade during a rally to mark the seventh day of Ashoura, in the southern village of Seksakiyeh, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

They noted that other social media companies including Facebook and Google “have taken proactive measures to address the presence of FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organizations) and affiliated accounts and content on their platforms.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, Rose, Reed and Gottheimer said they’re pushing the company to take down the Hezbollah and Hamas content by November 1.

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