Once again, Twitter has found itself the object of some unwanted legal attention due to the existence of Twitter accounts said to belong to known terrorist organizations.
Last month, US Senator Joe Lieberman publicly criticized both Twitter and Google for allowing Taliban members to make use of the online services. This time, according to The Telegraph an Israeli law firm is threatening to take Twitter to court over Hezbollah related accounts on the social networking site.
While Twitter has not made any public statements on the matter, the Taliban accounts are still very much in existence and are quite active at that. So it’s safe to assume that the social networking site’s stance is one of complete freedom of speech, no matter what.
Of course Twitter is no stranger to these kinds of suits, having even been asked not only to shut down accounts, but also to hand over user account information, when US prosecutors attempted to access Wikileaks related accounts, but failed.
Now, Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Centre, has sent a letter to Twitter demanding that it suspend several Twitter accounts, among them Lebanese news source, Al Manar which is said to be run by a Hezbollah television station. Shurat HaDin isn’t just going after Middle East-based Twitter accounts, with accounts belong to the East African arm of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, also coming under fire.
In the letter addressed to Twitter, the Law Centre stated:
“Please be advised that providing social media and other associated services to terrorist groups is illegal and will expose Twitter, Inc. and its officers to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to American citizens and others victimized by terrorisms carried out by Hezbollah, al-Shabaab or other FTOs”
While, last month, Twitter refused to heed Lieberman’s demands, the Israeli law firm is doing far more than just make demands. Shurat HaDin has threatened Twitter with a lawsuit, claiming that its current stance is illegal, giving designated terrorist organizations a public platform for their statements. It is also, however, worth noting that Hezbollah’s status as a terrorist organization is certainly a point of debate.
Either way, it’s probably safe to assume that Twitter’s response will be no different this time around, despite Shurat HaDin’s threats.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, executive director of Shurat HaDin, was quick to call out Twitter on allowing these accounts to continue to operate. She stated in a letter
“Twitter’s complicit service to known foreign terrorist organizations is not only morally irresponsible, it is also illegal. Twitter needs to take responsibility for the platform it is providing to known terrorists and cease and desist immediately. Their failure to do so exposes them to severe liability.”
The group went on to say that they expected “written confirmation” that Twitter had complied, otherwise they would proceed with the lawsuit.
Twitter has earned itself a reputation as a beacon of freedom of speech, ensuring that protesters in the Middle East were able to get the word about events on the ground as they happened, while also delaying a critical update to the service in the midst of a brutal crackdown on Iranian protests in 2009.
That same dedication to freedom of speech has earned the social networking site many a detractor, and Shurat HaDin can now be added to the constantly growing list.