Poe, Sherman, Royce, Engle: Shut Down Terrorists on Twitter

This week, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a bipartisan letter to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo urging him to increase efforts to combat foreign terrorist organizations who are using the American social media company to fundraise, spread their propaganda and recruit new jihadists.

Recently Twitter shut down 2,000 accounts. However, according to the Brookings Institution, there are approximately 46,000 active ISIS accounts on Twitter.  The letter calls on Twitter to set up new streamlined procedures to counter the efforts of terrorists using social media and urges Twitter to treat terrorist content the same way they treat other objectionable content.

Congressman Poe said, “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations should not be allowed to use private American companies like Twitter as a free and instant tool to radicalize thousands of young impressionable minds throughout the world and recruit new jihadists. Groups like ISIS have successfully used social media as a way to broadcast their barbaric acts and propaganda to the world, not to mention to fundraise millions of dollars for their reign of terror. Twitter is far behind other social media companies that are combatting this threat. Twitter needs to do more. It’s time to put a stop to this cyber jihad.”

Congressman Sherman said, “I recognize that Twitter has recently removed many accounts associated with terrorists, but they need to put forward a more consistent and systematic effort.  Twitter has systems in place to rectify copyright and trademark infringement. The least they can do is to have similar systems in place to address terrorism.  At times this may be like a game of whack-a-mole – with the moles being terrorist operatives that pop up here and there online.  But, it’s far better to play the game than ignore the moles altogether.”

Congressman Royce: “ISIS is recruiting on its virtual caliphate at an unprecedented and very disturbing rate. Companies need to ensure that their social media services are not being hijacked for terrorist use.” 

Congressman Engel: “Times have changed and so have the means by which terrorists incite violence and recruit membership.   The Internet, while facilitating many revolutionary accomplishments, has also created a terrorist breeding ground that cannot be ignored.  Our efforts to combat this trend requires dedication, adaptation, and cooperation.  While I applaud Twitter’s recent removal of over 2,000 accounts believed to be associated with terrorist activity, this can only be considered a first step.  Twitter can, and must, do more to deny groups like ISIS a forum to promote their nefarious activities.”