A Twitter spokesperson defended Hamas’ ability to maintain a presence on the site, despite Twitter’s rule against supporting and perpetuating violence. According to the spokesperson, the group’s alleged commitment to peace and status as a democratically-elected organization exempts Hamas from the explicit rule banning terrorist organizations from the platform.
The Hamas Movement Twitter account, known as HamasInfoEn, claims to be the “official account” of the Hamas Movement in its banner on Twitter. While it is possible the account is not actually affiliated with Hamas, it has been cited in reporting by Haaretz, the Jewish Press, The Times of Israel, and others.
As recently as March, Hamas called for participation in a “Friday of Rage” on its Twitter account.
It also responded to Israel killing six Hamas terrorists with a threat: “We thwarted a dangerous Israeli scheme, retaliation to follow.”
Even if the Hamas Movement Twitter account is not a real Hamas-affiliated account, its existence would seemingly still violate Twitter’s rule against “[v]iolence and physical harm,” which claims to ban users based on their support for a terrorist organization:
Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.
Hamas is considered a foreign terrorist organization in the United States, where Twitter operates. It was designated a terrorist organization in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton.
However, a spokesperson for Twitter told the Media Research Center there is actually a different set of rules that applies to Hamas, covered under the policies for “[v]iolent extremist groups.”
While the Twitter spokesperson said she could not comment on specific accounts, the spokesperson directed the Media Research Center to this specific passage of the rules against violent extremist groups:
Exceptions will be considered for groups that have reformed or are currently engaging in a peaceful resolution process, as well as groups with representatives elected to public office through democratic elections.
The exemption goes on to claim that the policy also “does not apply to military or government entities.”
Therefore, even though Hamas violates all of the determining factors Twitter uses when deciding whether a group is a violent extremist group, it is still able to be on Twitter because of its status as a democratically-elected government and its alleged commitments to peace.
Twitter appears to apply an arbitrary double-standard when it comes to enforcing its rule against belonging to organizations that promote violence off the website. While non-violent right-wing organizations and users have gotten purged as a result of Twitter’s offline behavior rule, Hamas is reportedly the driving force behind the violence at the Gaza border that has led to a claim of 60 deaths just this week, and 116 overall since the protests began on March 30 (pictured above).