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In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the rise of ISIS, lawmakers and policy experts on Tuesday discussed whether social media sites should be held responsible when terrorists use them. Texas Republican Ted Poe, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, compared allowing groups like ISIS to post on social media to "letting our enemies take out an ad in the New York Times during World War II." Poe questioned whether sites like Twitter should be legally responsible for tweets that incite violence, spread the demands of terrorist organizations or try to recruit people to extremist causes. Mark Wallace, chief executive officer of the Counter Extremism Project, suggested that Twitter set up a tiered system where unverified accounts are subject to closer scrutiny.
During the fall of 2014, there were at least 45,000 Twitter accounts used by ISIS supporters, said J.M. Berger, non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, citing his own research. He suggested that Twitter and other social media sites do more to permanently ban users who support terrorism. "The question is, 'Who is going to make the determination of where the line is drawn?" asked Rebecca MacKinnon of the New America Foundation. She said that overly broad anti-terror laws could help governments crack down on journalists and bloggers who post sensitive things online and could make social media companies "play it safe" by automatically banning politically controversial material.
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