Israeli government threatens Twitter with legal action for not acting on terrorist content

Now it’s Twitter’s turn. The Israeli government said today that it would take “legal action” against Twitter for “ignoring repeated requests to remove online content that was inciting or supportive of terrorism,” according to Bloomberg.

Justice minister Ayelet Shaked was referencing accounts and content created by Hamas and Hezbollah, among others. She added that terrorist organizations are using the platform to “incite violence.”

According to the report, Israeli government officials submitted more than 12,000 takedown requests to Twitter last year. While the report offered no specific examples, I suspect the government has a fairly expansive definition of what types of content are likely to incite violence.

It’s not clear whether or how Twitter will respond. Under growing legal and government pressure in the US, Europe and beyond, social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube, have sought to be more proactive in the face of extremist content.

Last month, The European Commission issued guidelines and recommendations for the rapid (within one hour) removal of “illegal content” from social platforms and websites accessible within Europe. Those guidelines are aimed primarily at terrorist propaganda. The guidelines don’t currently have the force of law but could become codified if the platforms decline to observe them.

Facebook has been embroiled in a growing scandal surrounding the use of its data by Cambridge Analytica to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 US election and the preceding Brexit vote in the UK. The company’s stock has seen its market cap decline by more than $35 billion since the scandal broke.

Twitter stock also took a hit by association following the Cambridge Analytica revelations and was down again today after the Israeli government statement. However, it appears to have recovered in afternoon trading.

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