In an effort to abolish incitement to violence on its social media channel, Twitter has removed over 125,000 pro-terror pages since mid-2015, the company announced on Friday.
Due to social media’s nature of being a free platform for advertisement, it opens the door to radical Islamic incitement to violence, which can now be spread across the world to a wider audience than ever before.
In order to fight this form of terror, administrators of the popular network use a combination of robots and human judgement to catch any and all “tweets” which are linked to calling for or vocalize support of violent terrorism and shut them down. Specifically, statements related to the radical Islamic group, ISIS.
Such a task involves hours of careful consideration involving difficult decisions for Twitter authorities who must boldly define the gray area between “free speech” and “incitement to terror”.
This type of work can be deadly. In 2014, then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told Vanity Fair he and other Twitter employees had received death threats from ISIS for removal of their content. However, the effort put into a daunting feat such as this one is undoubtedly worth it when the ends justify the means.
Said Twitter to The Guardian: “We condemn the use of Twitter to promote violent terrorism… This type of behavior, or any violent threats, is not permitted on our service.”
It’s quite clear that there exists a rather complicated relationship between social media and terror. As the Twitter staff works tirelessly to purge their site of all ISIS-affiliated incitement, doing its best to combat the radical Islamic agenda, social media on the whole has done remarkably little to reduce the presence of anti-Israel and pro-terror propaganda. Facebook in particular seems to take no issue when incitement to violence is advocated against Israel.
Indeed, over the past few months several instances have come to light of Facebook targeting pro-Jewish pages for censure while claiming that violent pro-Palestinian pages meet their ethical requirements. On Sunday, Facebook deleted its version of a violation in their community standards: a page titled “Am Israel Chai” (the nation of Israel lives).
This is only the latest evidence of a purported bias by Facebook in which critics are claiming the social media network allows posts and pages related to encouraging terror. Most recently, a Quds News Network posted an interactive image prompting viewers to “find out which martyr are you.” To date, the image is still active with more than 6,000 likes, 2300 comments and over 250 shares.
In early 2016, an experiment was done revealing the blatant bias when two identical pages were created, one extolled terror against Jews, the other against Palestinians. The only page to be removed by Facebook for violating its community standards was that against Palestinians.
Currently there is an ongoing lawsuit by the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) against Facebook, which has taken this inconsistency to court. While the issue of general incitement is being discussed, the more specific focus of the case is that of Facebook’s defense of Palestinians.