Twitter, the social media giant, is facing mounting questions from members of Congress and outside groups over the abuse of its network by Islamic State terrorists to spread propaganda and recruit foreign fighters.
An upcoming report has identified as many as 46,000 Twitter accounts that were being used by IS sympathizers during a three-month period last fall — making it by far the most popular social media service for the terror group, according to J.M. Berger, who conducted the study, to be published next month by the Brookings Institution.
But in recent weeks, how Twitter — as well as other social media companies such as YouTube and Facebook — polices this content is emerging as a central issue in a vexing debate that pits the limits of free speech against the government’s need to confront the aggressive messaging of IS and related terror groups. It is expected to be a prime topic of a social media panel scheduled today at a White House summit on “countering violent extremism.”
“This is the way [IS] is recruiting — they are getting people to leave their homelands and become fighters,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, the chair of a House foreign affairs subcommittee on terrorism, who held a recent hearing on the issue.