Republican renews call for censoring terror groups on Twitter

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, November 23, 2012 12:43 EDT
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A Pakistani man protests censorship. Photo: AFP.
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As violence in the Gaza strip flares, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) is reminding reporters that he’s been calling for Hamas to be removed from social media for months.

Poe and six other House Republicans said in September that they sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanding that organizations like Hamas, designated by the U.S. government as terrorist groups, to be censored and blocked from using social media.

Since that’s virtually impossible without cutting off Twitter entirely in certain countries, nothing’s been done about it and the FBI still hasn’t responded. That’s apparently troubling to Poe.

“Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,” Poe wrote to The Hill over Thanksgiving. “Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel. Anti-American foreign terrorist groups around the world are doing the same thing every day. The FBI and Twitter must recognize sooner rather than later that social media is a tool for the terrorists.”

In theory, Poe, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, knows that such a move would contradict U.S. policy and may even harm individuals who’re forced to live under terrorist regimes. During the Arab Spring protests, U.S. officials credited access to social media for the rapid organization of dissident groups in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and the State Department has spent millions teaching activists in anti-democratic countries how to avoid online censorship.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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