The FBI arrested 22-year-old Queens’ resident Ali Saleh on the basis of his retweets on Twitter. Saleh had been retweeting pro-ISIS tweets, and the authorities concluded that he wanted to join ISIS, reports NYDailyNews. Also Read - Explained: Can Twitter get banned in India?
Apparently, the age-old disclaimer that retweets are not endorsements does not apply for the FBI. They have been tracking accounts who have been retweeting such propagandist tweets and are arresting them as suspects. Even a 17-year-old Virginia resident was arrested after regularly retweeting fawning statements about ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this summer. Also Read - Twitter vs government: Twitter India loses legal protection for not complying with IT rules on time
Saleh began these retweets in 2013, and the complaint against him has many retweets that Saleh did, and are provided as the main evidence for the cause of arrest. The retweets include statements like, ‘I’m ready to die for the Caliphate, prison is nothing’ and ‘IS is winning battle of hearts and minds. People have started to realize that war is a necessity’. One of the retweets is also from an ISIS representative that is asking users to ‘Come and join the Caliphate.’ Also Read - Twitter friends/followers seeking your unwanted attention could be Unmentioned
There are many reasons why users retweet pro-ISIS tweets, and the most popular reason is to draw attention to them, in order to ridicule them further. Most users retweet things that they find funny, outrageous and even appalling. Users do retweet things that they agree with, but that is not the only reason why they choose to retweet, and using it as an excuse to arrest citizens in unruly. The police cannot arrest users on the choice of their retweets, and ambiguously claim them as endorsements.