Joe Lieberman is heading up a movement in the US Congress that would like to see Twitter censor the Taliban’s tweets, in order to “eliminate violent Islamist extremism propaganda” on social media.
The Taliban has been prolific on Twitter, but their account tweets a mixture of up-to-the-minute information about NATO attacks, as well as vile anti-Western propaganda.
The Telegraph is reporting that an aide for Senator Joe Lieberman has confirmed that he and a group of senators are asking Twitter to close specific Taliban-related accounts.
Here’s an excerpt from the Telegraph:
Leslie Phillips, a spokesman for the senate homeland security committee, said:
“Senator Lieberman’s efforts to eliminate violent Islamist extremism propaganda from the internet and social media has been a campaign of persuasion.
“He has written letters, for example to Google seeking the company to enforce more strongly its terms of service, which ban the sort of thing that we see from violent Islamist extremists.
“Google responded positively to the Senator’s letter.”
Google might be receptive to the idea, but Twitter – despite offering no comment on the issue – is said to be resisting the demands that the accounts be closed. They are specifically citing the fact that, unlike Al Quaeda, the Taliban is not considered a terrorist group by the US government.
Regardless of your stance on censoring social media, the practical aspects of Twitter actually doing this offers up some complications. For instance, the original account might be shut down, but who’s to say the Taliban won’t simply start up another one? Or splinter into several accounts? Or even break off into individual accounts claiming no connection to the Taliban, and therefore offering no reason for censorship?
It’s a sticky issue, and one that freedom of speech advocates will certainly rally around.