October 22, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Statement From Congressmen Tom Reed, Josh Gottheimer, Fitzpatrick:
Today, Tuesday, October 22, 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers comprised of Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom Reed (NY-23), Max Rose (NY-11), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, to stop blatantly violating U.S. law, to immediately change their policy, and to remove all content from Foreign Terrorist Organizations and affiliated profiles, including Hamas and Hezbollah, by November 1st. If Twitter is better at determining violent extremist content than the U.S. government, Dorsey should come and testify before Congress.
In a September 2019 letter to a bipartisan group of members — Gottheimer, Reed, and Fitzpatrick, Twitter stated that the platform is no place for terrorist organizations. Twitter then proceeded to outline its policy, which makes exceptions for Hamas and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and Hamas are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) by the U.S. Department of State, making it illegal for Americans to knowingly provide those organizations material support or resources. The U.S. Department of the Treasury may also require U.S. financial institutions to block all transactions involving the assets of a designated FTO.
“Right now, Twitter, as a U.S.-based company, is bucking U.S. law by blatantly supporting foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah. Twitter is literally, and arrogantly, disputing the U.S. government’s determination of what constitutes a terrorist organization,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) today. “There is simply no reason why terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, deserve access to Twitter’s platform to promote themselves as sponsors of violent, radical, hate-filled terrorism. Twitter should immediately comply with U.S. law and shut down these terrorist-affiliated handles and content.”
“This shouldn’t be hard: groups that are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations shouldn’t be on social media channels,” said Congressman Max Rose (NY-11), Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism. “The FTO designation is a clear standard for removing content and there’s no reason why exceptions should be made for groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and their affiliates as they continue to sponsor violent radical extremism.”
“As a proud New Yorker, and someone who lived through 9/11, I know the pain and anguish terrorist activity causes,” Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) said. “All other social media companies are taking steps to comply with U.S. law. Why does Twitter think they are above the law? Twitter must take down these profiles spewing violent extremism and hate.”
“Terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas should not have a presence on Twitter. It is well documented that these groups use Twitter to spread propaganda and recruit new members,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). “Twitter’s policy dictates that they follow the direction of national and international terrorist designations when restricting content. I highly suggest they begin to follow their own policies.”