Twitter sprang into action today to prevent its users from sharing a graphic and disturbing video of Islamic militants beheading American journalist James Foley. The State Department is still trying to verify that it is really Foley in the video and to identify the killer, who was masked and had a British accent.
The ISIS group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the beheading.
The video began appearing on Twitter early Wednesday morning, and Twitter users quickly began sharing it. It spread across the microblogging network rapidly. Soon after that, journalists and others began urging users to avoid the graphic video and stop sharing it.
Then, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced in a tweet that his company is actively suspending the accounts of anyone found to be sharing the video or stills from the video.
Costolo’s tweet read simply:
“We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you https://t.co/jaYQBKVbBF”
Militant Islamic groups often take to social media channels to publicize violent terrorist actions and to claim responsibility. The suspensions were noticed early Wednesday by researchers who track terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
Many tweets discussing the event today ask if the U.S. should once again return to Iraq with military force.
Twitter has been slow to censor any content on the network, but its rules state that any content that threatens another human being’s life can be deleted and the account turned off.
The video of the beheading, which I have not seen, is said to end with a threat to kill another American journalist being held by the militant group, Steven Joel Sotloff.