Social networks have become an influential part of the information battlefield, especially during uprisings and armed conflicts. In the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza strip, many suggest it was the first war started on Twitter and some even dubbed it the "World's First Social Media War."
Much to Israel's dismay, overwhelming military force cannot win a social media war. The sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza far outnumbered the support for Israel on Twitter and elsewhere.
Seeking a solution to this disproportionate cyber support, Israel sympathizers are lobbying to censor and ban their opposition from using social media weapons. They blockade Palestinians from having most physical goods, why not block them from Twitter as well?
The Hill reports:
Seven House Republicans asked the FBI in September to demand that Twitter take down the accounts of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Somalia's al Shabaab. The letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller was spearheaded by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who said Wednesday that the recent events vindicated the request.
'Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,' Poe said in an e-mailed statement to The Hill. '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 addition to these elected officials, a group called Christians United for Israel has encouraged their followers to engage in a letter-writing campaign to demand that Twitter censor Hamas.
“The fact that a terrorist organization like Hamas, with so much Israeli and American blood on its hands, can use a service like Twitter is outrageous,” the group wrote in a campaign titled Ban Hamas From Twitter.
The complaint reads uses similar language as the letter by lawmakers to the FBI:
The United States government has designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Under 18 U.S.C. 2339A, it is illegal for any U.S. Company to provide 'material support' to a terrorist organization. This prohibited material support specifically includes 'services' and 'communications equipment.' By allowing Hamas to have a Twitter account, you are providing it with an important 'service' and extremely effective 'communications equipment' which are central to its primary mission of terrorizing the Israeli people and using civilian deaths to score political points.This is not the first time lawmakers have lobbied private companies to censor opposition groups from the Internet. Google recently reported that in general take-down requests and requests for personal data from governments have risen dramatically, with the US making the most demands.
Senator Joe Lieberman has repeatedly lobbied Google to ban anti-government and violent rhetoric from their platforms, but only from stated enemies of the West. Of course, Lieberman still wants to be able to advertise bombing Iran through these platforms.
As for the Gaza situation, apparently the Tweets that sparked outrage were those that glorified rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and promulgated pictures of dead children alleged to have been killed by Israeli strikes, Tweets like "#Israel's military kills #Palestinian children in cold blood in #Gaza."
To date, there have been no calls for Israel to be banned for the IDF's incendiary tweets such as "we recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces aboveground in the days ahead."
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