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Twitter suspends accounts sharing beheading images

The social network says users caught posting images from the gruesome video of the alleged beheading of photojournalist James Foley will have their accounts yanked.


Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced Wednesday that the social network was suspending all accounts that posted images from the appalling video allegedly showing the beheading of photojournalist James Foley.

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

Foley, 40, was kidnapped in Syria about two years ago while working as a freelance journalist, according to The New York Times. News of his whereabouts since then has been scant. On Tuesday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a gruesome video to YouTube that it said was the beheading of Foley. The authenticity of the video has not yet been verified and YouTube has since pulled it.

Apparently, before the video was taken off YouTube, several Twitter users got images from the video and have since posted them to the social network. Under Twitter's terms of service, users cannot post "violence and threats."

While Twitter has rules against violence in its terms of service, its guidelines are less comprehensive than those of other tech companies. For example, Facebook doesn't allow promotion of violence or organizations with a record of terrorist or violent activity, and Google Play's app policies detail strict prohibitions against violence, bullying and hate speech.

It seems Twitter is beginning to put more thought into stricter rules, however. Just yesterday, the company announced it would remove images and videos of deceased individuals from the social network at the request of immediate family members or authorized individuals. The policy update came a week after Zelda Williams, daughter of entertainer Robin Williams, announced she was abandoning her Twitter account after graphic photoshopped images of her late father were sent to her on the social network.

CNET has contacted Twitter for more information and we'll update the story when we hear back.