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Twitter refuses to remove terrorist-linked Iranian accounts

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Khamenei.ir/Wikimedia)
April 14, 2022

Twitter has allowed accounts belonging to foreign terrorist organizations, including the Houthis and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to remain on the platform. The massive social media company has also explicitly refused to remove one terrorist-linked account that threatened to murder former President Donald Trump.

According to a new report published Wednesday by Counter Extremism Project (CEP), which describes itself as a “nonprofit and non-partisan international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies,” Twitter’s failure to remove terrorist organizations from its platform has allowed the “spread of posted violent threats and propaganda” which violates its own rules.

Twitter’s terms of service agreement states that “there is no place on Twitter for violent organizations, including terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activates.” While the company has removed some terrorist-linked accounts, it has explicitly refused to remove one IRGC-linked account that “promotes IRGC propaganda” and even threatened to murder former President Trump.

“[The account] has been online since July 2015 and has more than 700 followers. On January 15, 2022, the account posted a video with the caption ‘You know we will do it,’ explicitly and directly threatening to murder former U.S. President Donald J. Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” CEP reported.

Twitter justified leaving the account active by claiming that it “hasn’t broken [Twitter] safety policies.” However, in the same response, Twitter reportedly “contradicts itself by stating that ‘threatening violence against someone or a group of people … isn’t allowed.’”

“By removing a Houthis-related account while permitting IRGC official and unofficial accounts to operate on its platform, Twitter demonstrates the ineffectiveness of its policies and policy enforcement mechanisms,” CEP argued. “Content created by or in support of the Houthis or IRGC—both of which have leaders who are internationally sanctioned—surely qualifies as ‘worst of the worst’ and must be kept off major tech platforms.”

“Rather than providing vague justifications for allowing terrorist groups on its platform, the company should dedicate the necessary resources and expertise to ensure that its policies are applied transparently and consistently,” the group concluded.

While terrorist-linked groups are allowed to remain active on the platform, Twitter has suspended former President Trump, the satire news website “The Babylon Bee” and the account “LibsofTikTok.”

The CEP’s report was published one day before SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered to buy 100 percent of Twitter for $54.20 per share “in cash.” Musk said the deal – which tops $40 billion – is his “best and final offer.”

In an SEC filing submitted Wednesday, Musk told Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor that he would “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential” as the world’s free speech platform.