One thing that the world media has discovered in the course of the current conflict: Hamas has a Twitter account.
Actually, Hamas probably has lots of Twitter accounts. Specifically, though, Hamas’ ‘military wing’, the Izzadeen Al-Qassam Brigades, has a Twitter account. It’s been using this account (@AlqassamBrigade) extensively over the last few days. It has more than 13,000 followers.
Hamas uses this account pretty poorly. It boasts about rockets it’s fired at Israeli cities but it calls them all “military bases”. It posts threats to Israel:
Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)
It’s also full of lies. Not distortions, outright lies - including claims of strikes and Israeli casualties in places where nothing actually happened, and photos of supposed casualties who are actually victims of the Syrian regime. Some news networks have been reporting stuff from the Hamas Twitterstream without properly verifying it. They’ve ended up embarrassed.
But how Hamas uses Twitter isn’t the issue. It’s much simpler. Hamas shouldn’t have a Twitter account.
Hamas shouldn’t have a Twitter account
Hamas is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under s219 of the USA’s Immigration Act.
It is illegal for a US citizen or company to provide an FTO:
…any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency (…) lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons…
A Twitter account is an account to access and use a service provided by Twitter, a US company based in San Francisco, California. It is a federal offence to provide Hamas with services. As a US company, Twitter is breaking the law by providing Hamas with a Twitter account.
IT’S A BREACH OF TWITTER’S OWN TERMS OF SERVICE
Twitter, like all Internet service companies, has a comprehensive Terms of Service (TOS). Hamas’ use of Twitter breaks these Terms of Service in a few ways:
Section 1 of Twitter’s TOS says
You may use the Services only if you … are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the United States
As mentioned above, Hamas is banned from receiving services under US federal law.
Twitter’s Rules (a part of their TOS) also specifically ban:
Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.
Hamas has used the Twitter account to threaten Israeli soldiers, leaders and civillians
Unlawful Use: You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities.
Hamas is using the account for a variety of purposes illegal in the United States: Promoting itself (a designated FTO), promoting terrorism, promoting the firing rockets at Israeli cities (a War Crime) and probably more.
Twitter maintains the absolute right to kick anyone off of its services for any reason, but especially for those who either break its TOS or expose Twitter to possible legal action. Both of these are true of Hamas.
What can you do?
Let’s take away Hamas’ Twitter account. Here’s how to start
COMPLAIN TO TWITTER
There are lots of ways to complain to Twitter, but they more or less all require you to be a Twitter user.
File an abuse report here. I suggest you select the middle option, “Someone on Twitter is posting offensive content”. Be sure to include lots of information about why Hamas having a Twitter account is illegal.
Tweet complaints to official Twitter accounts, especially: @twitter @twittercomms @feedback @TwitterLA and @safety
If you don’t have a Twitter account and don’t want one, you can try writing to Twitter at:
Twitter, Inc, 1355 Market St, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
If you’re a Parliamentarian or Government official, contact Twitter directly, and if you’re a journalist then email their media office on press [at] twitter dot com to ask if they will kick Hamas off Twitter.
If you’re actually a Law Enforcement officer who wants to get into this, start here.
KICK UP A STINK
Write to your representatives – especially if you’re American and doubly so if you’re Californian. Ask them to take up the issue with Twitter directly.
Try to get the media interested. This is a bona fide story that should be written. Hamas isn’t the only banned terror group with a Twitter account, either.
Blog, Tweet, Facebook and generally let the world know that Twitter is illegally providing a service to a terrorist organisation.
Wherever you are in the world, this is one way you can make a difference, albeit a tiny one, to help defeat Hamas and its propaganda efforts. This is doable. So let’s do it.
(I’ll tweet any progress – of course – at @ariehkovler)