On Tuesday the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a video which they said showed the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria almost two years ago.
The footage, which is extremely graphic, was quickly circulated before being removed by YouTube and other video sharing sites. Images captured from the video were also shared heavily on social media, and Twitter has now stated that it is banning accounts that are posting these photos.
“We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery,” writes Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in a tweet posted earlier today.
We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you https://t.co/jaYQBKVbBF
— dick costolo (@dickc) August 20, 2014
Researcher Pieter Van Ostaeyen has documented a number of suspended Islamic State fighters’ profiles since Twitter made the announcement.
This says it all … pic.twitter.com/mZu2fYAGfZ
— Pieter Van Ostaeyen (@p_vanostaeyen) August 20, 2014
However, Twitter has a somewhat inconsistent history regarding freedom of expression, with the company often finding itself adrift between its own “the tweets must flow” mantra and a much more severe stance on what is and what isn’t acceptable on the network. This case is no exception, with many users urging Twitter to ban the New York Post after they posted an image of Foley moments before his death to their @nypost profile. Regardless, a Twitter spokesperson has said they will not suspend @nypost, which yet again puts the platform in somewhat murky waters regarding policy.