Images, video of beheaded journalist removed from Twitter

YouTube also removed the video from its top video-sharing website

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Twitter Wednesday removed from its service photos and video of the beheading of a US journalist that had been posted online by jihadists.

The gruesome, almost five-minute-long video titled "A Message to America" surfaced Tuesday, confronting Twitter and other online platforms with a quandary over whether to allow their sites, normally committed to free expression, to be used to propagate graphic material like that in the video.

The video shows the execution of journalist James Foley by a masked militant and a warning that the group intends to kill a second captive journalist unless the United States halts air strikes in Iraq.

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

YouTube also removed the video from its site in accordance with its policy against "violent or gory content that's primarily intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful."

Posting Wednesday on his Twitter account, national security expert JM Berger said that images from the execution were "still getting through."

But "I can say that the number of images visible on the timeline of my biggest viable IS list has dropped dramatically from last night," he added.

Meanwhile, social media users began a campaign to keep the gruesome images off the Internet and deny the IS, or ISIS as it is also called, the media attention it sought.

Rallying under the hashtag #ISISmediablackout, the movement encouraged posting photos of Foley at work as a reporter rather than those associated with his death.

"Blackout on group that murdered James Foley. Don't share video. Give them nothing. #RespectJamesFoley" actress Mia Farrow tweeted.

On Tuesday, Twitter had said it would take down photos of dead individuals if requested by family, going a step beyond its previous rules.

That followed the apparent suicide of Hollywood star Robin Williams, whose daughter, Zelda Williams, quit social media last week, upset by Internet "trolls" defacing images of her Oscar-winning dad.

"Twitter will remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances," a statement posted by Twitter senior manager of communications, Nu Wexler, said.

"Immediate family members and other authorized individuals may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death," it said.

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