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Twitter is suspending accounts that share video of American’s beheading

It could be part of a crackdown on all ISIS propaganda on Twitter.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Aug 20, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 6:01 pm CDT

Twitter is suspending accounts that post the horrifying footage of terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant—better known as ISIS—apparently beheading American journalist James Foley.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo made the announcement via his own account in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday.

We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you

— dick costolo (@dickc) August 20, 2014

The video only lasted a short while on YouTube before being taken down, though this being the Internet, it’s still not terribly hard to find. Not that anyone should want to.

Just sick after watching the Foley video. My god. Just horrifying

— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) August 19, 2014

I don’t like that even when I try to avoid terrible images, I end up seeing them by accident anyway. This is a flaw on social media.

— Melody Joy Kramer (@mkramer) August 20, 2014

While it’s not been independently confirmed that the man killed in the video is indeed Foley, his own mother seems to have little doubt. In a statement posted to Facebook, she wrote, “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment. But the announced crackdown, while unprecedented, has a logic behind it. As NPR’s On the Media has reported, ISIS, which has in recent months made major advances in Iraq and Syria, keeps an extremely well oiled propaganda machine, and can benefit immensely from its brutal images going viral. In recent days, Twitter has been actively cracking down on ISIS-related accounts.

Illustration by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Aug 20, 2014, 9:46 am CDT