December 31, 2011

Twitter Threatened With Lawsuit Over Hezbollah Activity

An Israeli activist group has threatened to sue Twitter in a move aimed at forcing the microblogging website to shut down accounts operated by Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

According to Telegraph Technology Correspondent Christopher Williams, Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Centren sent a letter to the popular social network urging them to block Hezbollah, the East African al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab and "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" activities.

"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," Shurat HaDin's letter said, according to a Friday article by Williams.

The letter was sent by lawyer and Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the Daily Mail reported. Previously, the website's policy against blocking or censoring content has drawn the ire of U.S. politicians, including Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman.

In a press release cited by the Daily Mail, Darshan-Leitner said, "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."

On January 28, Twitter's Biz Stone and Alex MacGillivray wrote, "Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of expression is essential."

"Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users," they added. "We don't always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content."

Darshan-Leitner's organization has demanded that Twitter "immediately provide us written confirmation" that it plans to close down the Hezbollah and al-Shabaab accounts, or face legal action, according to Williams. Twitter has declined to comment on the issue.


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