U.S. Lawmakers Call on Twitter to Remove Hamas and Hezbollah Content

In letter to Twitter CEO, congressmen say they were alarmed to find that the platform 'draws a distinction between the political and military factions of these organizations'

Hezbollah fighters hold flags as they attend the memorial of their slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, February 13, 2016.
Mohammed Zaatari,AP

Four Congress members have called out Twitter for allowing Hamas and Hezbollah to maintain a presence on the social media platform.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.; Tom Reed, R-N.Y.; Max Rose, D-N.Y.; and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., 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 U.S. government.

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

A Twitter official had written to the lawmakers last month.

“There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities,” Carlos Monje Jr., the director of public policy and philanthropy for the United States and Canada, said in a letter.

Monje went to say: “We assess organizations and individuals under our violent extremist group criteria and are additionally informed by national and international terrorism designations.”

The congressmen responded in their letter Tuesday.

“If you believe that Twitter is better at determining violent extremist content than the United States Government’s interagency process,” they wrote, “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 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.”