US senators lambast Twitter’s Jack Dorsey on Hezbollah and Hamas

The group wants Twitter to ban by November 1 the groups US has designated as terrorist organisations

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A bipartisan group of US senators have asked Twitter to remove Hamas and Hezbollah affiliated users and content from the platform.

In a letter to Twitter  chief executive Jack Dorsey, Josh Gottheimer, Tom Reed and Max Rose of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania said they were dismayed to learn the platform's definition of a terrorist organisation differed from the US government definition.

The US government designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in 1997 and Hamas in 1993. However, the European Union has only branded Hezbollah’s armed wing as terrorist, distinguishing it from the group’s political arm, which holds parliamentary seats in Lebanon.

“There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organisations, violent extremist groups or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities,” Mr Dorsey wrote in reply to an earlier letter from the senators asking for clarification on Twitter's policies.

However, the service “may make limited exceptions for groups that have reformed or are currently engaging in peaceful resolution processes, as well as groups with representatives who have been elected to public office through elections, as is the case with parts of Hamas and Hezbollah,” he said.

The group of four senators issued a furious response to Mr Dorsey’s letter on Tuesday, taking issue with Twitter’s decision to differentiate between political and military factions.

“There is simply no reason why terrorist organisations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, deserve access to Twitter’s platform to promote themselves as sponsors of violent, radical, hate-filled terrorism,” said New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer.

The senators ended their letter with a request for Twitter to remove Hamas and Hezbollah-affiliated content and Twitter handles.

The spat between the lawmakers and Twitter comes as the platform announced world leaders aren't entirely above its ban on users threatening violence or promoting terrorism on the site.

The San Francisco company is clarifying its rules as some Democrats say they would like to see President Donald Trump booted off Twitter, his favoured platform for filterless communication with the world.

But while Twitter says it will enforce its policies against any user when it comes to material such as child sexual abuse, direct threats of violence against a private individual, or posting someone's private information, it doesn't appear Mr Trump's account is in imminent danger.

A blog post this week expanded on Twitter's policy governing tweets. In June, Twitter said world leaders' tweets that violate its rules but have a clear public-interest value might get a warning label. The label would provide context on the violation and let people click through to see the tweet if they want to.

While Twitter said in June that it will not use its algorithms to "elevate" or otherwise promote tweets that have a warning label, it now says it also won't let people retweet or comment on them.