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Twitter Bans Graphic Images of James Foley's Beheading by Islamic State


"Actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery."

A photo taken on September 29, 2011 shows US freelance reporter James Foley (L) on the highway between the airport and the West Gate of Sirte, Libya. Foley was kidnapped in war-torn Syria six weeks ago and has been missing since, his family revealed on January 2, 2013. Foley, 39, an experienced war reporter who has covered other conflicts, was seized by armed men in the town of Taftanaz in the northern province of Idlib on November 22, according to witnesses. The reporter contributed videos to Agence France-Presse. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

AMSTERDAM (TheBlaze/AP) — Twitter and some other social media outlets are trying to block the spread of gruesome images of the beheading of journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants, while a movement to deny his killers publicity is also gaining momentum.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a tweet that his company "is actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery," and he gave a link to a New York Times story about Foley's killing.

While the White House is still working to verify the video of Foley's beheading, journalists and others took to Twitter Tuesday to beg fellow users not to share any images or footage from the graphic video that purports to show Foley’s death.



The video appears to show Foley kneeling in a desert beside a man dressed in all black before his head is sawed off.

Foley's mother released a statement Tuesday after the video had spread on social media.

“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,” Diane Foley said in a Facebook post.

Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler on Wednesday confirmed Costolo's tweet, which was published late Tuesday California time, and referred further questions to a company policy page. Twitter allows immediate family members of someone who dies to request image removals, although the company weighs public interest against privacy concerns.

Twitter users who oppose spreading the images are using the trending hashtag #ISISMediaBlackout, and the trend has gained popularity in the last 12 hours; the handle was created shortly after the video was released, and, according to the Washington Post, appears to have originated with a woman using the Twitter handle @LibyaLiberty.

“Amputate their reach,” she said in one tweet. “Pour water on their flame.”


Rather than showing Foley held by ISIS, many news organizations are posting images of the murdered journalist as he reported from the field, like this NBC Tweet.

However, preventing links to the images has not had universal success.

By mid-afternoon in Europe on Wednesday, tweets could still be found linking directly to the footage on some video sharing sites, such as Vimeo.

Vimeo could not be immediately reached for comment.

On YouTube, which is owned by Google, the video was reportedly posted for some period of time Tuesday before being removed. By Wednesday afternoon in Europe, searches for the incident mainly turned up links to news reports of Foley's slaying. Some included original footage from the video, but left out shots of the act of killing.

Google and YouTube could not immediately be reached for comment.

Some news organizations question the "media blackout" strategy, noting that the graphic images are truthful representations of the horrific nature of groups like ISIS. EuroNews posted the question, and several citizens and responded:

At least 69 other journalists have been killed covering the war in Syria, and more than 80 have been kidnapped, CNN reported, citing the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group estimates "approximately 20 journalists, both local and international, are currently missing in Syria ... many of them are believed to be held by Islamic State."


Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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