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ADL Letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Terrorist Groups Exploiting Platform

In a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, ADL raised concern about a gap in Twitter’s enforcement of its stated policies toward accounts linked to U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

August 24, 2021

Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
Twitter
355 Market Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103

Dear Mr. Dorsey,

I write to you today to raise concern about a gap in Twitter’s enforcement of its stated policies toward accounts linked to U.S.-designated terrorist groups that exploit social media to incite antisemitism and deadly attacks. 

As you may recall, Twitter wrote the following in a 2019 letter to a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, including Rep. Joshua Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), then-Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA):

“There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities.

Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Twitter's policy is to remove or terminate all accounts it identifies as owned or operated by, or directly affiliated with, any designated foreign terrorist organization. If Twitter identifies an account as affiliated with Hamas or Hizballah, Twitter's policy is to terminate that account.”[1]

This followed two letters sent to you by those federal lawmakers in which they raised concern that Twitter “provide[s] a platform for affiliates of these terrorist groups, including the Hezbollah affiliate Al-Manar”[2] and that “Al Aqsa, Hamas’ television station also has a Twitter account.”[3]  While your company’s eventual response included suspending al-Manar’s Twitter accounts,[4] we are concerned that Twitter continues to host an account for Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV with over half a million followers.[5]

Twitter also continues to permit an account on its platform for one of Hezbollah’s official media outlets, al-Nour Radio, which has over 24,000 followers.[6] 

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “Al Manar and al Nour are the media arms of the Hizballah terrorist network and have facilitated Hizballah’s activities,”[7] and al-Aqsa TV is “a television station financed and controlled by Hamas” and “a primary Hamas media outlet and airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”[8] 

Also of concern are two Twitter accounts that are openly attributed to Palestine Today TV, a media site that both AP[9] and the State Department[10] have indicated is run by the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[11]  These two accounts on Twitter have 36,000[12] and 127,000[13] followers respectively.

All four of these Twitter accounts are expressly for the purpose of promoting stories from media outlets serving terrorist organizations that propagate horrific antisemitism on their media platforms.  Take, for example, a clip dated June 19th exposed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, in which Palestine Today TV broadcast a story where a Palestinian Islamic Jihad official bragged about the group’s terrorist summer camps to recruit, indoctrinate, and train minors, who he said “will accept nothing less than the demise of all the Jews.”[14]

ADL investigators flagged these accounts to Twitter directly on or by June 26, 2021.  When those efforts did not succeed, our incident response team flagged them through the trusted flagger channel in late June (between June 28 and 30).  Finally, we met with Twitter representatives on Wednesday, August 4, who indicated they would investigate and update us, but contended that the accounts in question had not been found to violate Twitter’s guidelines.  We have contacted Twitter repeatedly to notify you of these violations to your company’s policies, to no avail. 

These accounts should be removed for representing terrorist organizations, for glorifying violence and terrorist groups, and for spreading hate speech or other harmful disinformation, all in violation of Twitter’s most basic stated policies on these issues.  Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Greenblatt
CEO and National Director
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

CC: 

Representative Joshua Gottheimer (D-NJ)
Representative Tom Reed (R-NY)
Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)


[1] Carlos Monje, Jr., Letter to Representatives Gottheimer, Reed, Rose, and Fitzpatrick, November 1, 2019. (https://gottheimer.house.gov/uploadedfiles/twitter_nov_1_response.pdf)

[2] Representatives Gottheimer et al., Letter to Jack Dorsey, October 22, 2019. (https://gottheimer.house.gov/uploadedfiles/10.22.19_gottheimer_bipartisan_reply_to_twitter_re_ftos_on_platform.pdf)

[3] Representatives Gottheimer et al., Letter to Mark Zukerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Susan Wojcicki, September 17, 2019. (https://gottheimer.house.gov/uploadedfiles/9.17.19_bipartisan_letter_to_twitter_facebook_youtube_ftos_gottheimer_reed_fitzpatrick.pdf)

[4] “Twitter Suspends Hamas-Affiliated Accounts after Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Suspended,” Al-Arabiya English, November 3, 2019. (https://english.alarabiya.net/media/digital/2019/11/03/Twitter-suspends-Hamas-affiliated-accounts-after-Hezbollah-s-Al-Manar-suspended)

[5] @AqsaTVChannel, Twitter, accessed August 23, 2021. (https://twitter.com/AqsaTVChannel)

[6] @alnourradio, Twitter, accessed August 23, 2021. (https://twitter.com/alnourradio)

[7] U.S. Treasury Department, “U.S. Designates Al-Manar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity: Television Station is Arm of Hizballah Terrorist Network,” March 23, 2006. (https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/js4134.aspx)

[8] U.S. Treasury Department, “Treasury Designates Gaza-Based Business, Television Station for Hamas Ties,” March 18, 2010. (https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/tg594.aspx)

[9] Ian Deitch, “Israeli Forces Shut Palestinian Islamic Jihad Station,” Seattle Times via an AP wire story, March 11, 2016. (https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/israeli-forces-shut-palestinian-islamic-jihad-station/)

[10] U.S. State Department, “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, p. 97. (https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Israel-and-The-Occupied-Territories-The-Occupied-Territories.pdf)

[11] U.S. State Department “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” accessed August 10, 2021. (https://www.state.gov/foreign-terrorist-organizations/)

[12] @paltoday_tv, Twitter, accessed August 23, 2021. (https://twitter.com/paltoday_tv)

[13] @Paltodaytv, Twitter, accessed August 23, 2021. (https://twitter.com/Paltodaytv)

[14] Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), “Tawfiq Qanita, Head Of Indoctrination At Palestinian Islamic Jihad On Upcoming Summer Camps For 14-17 Year-Olds: They Seek To Become Martyrs, Liberate Their Country, Will Accept Nothing But The Demise Of The Jews, Demise Of Israel,” June 19, 2021. (https://www.memri.org/tv/tawfiq-qanita-head-pij-indoctrination-sword-jerusaelm-summer-camp-14-17-seek-martyrdom-liberate-demise-jews-israel)

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