Twitter suspends 125,000 'terrorism' accounts after global calls to counter extremism online
Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts for 'terrorism' related largely to ISIS after calls from the US government and European Union for social media companies to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism online.
The company published a blog on Friday (5 February) titled ‘Combating Violent Extremism’ in which it announced that since the middle of 2015, the social media platform has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.
“We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service” the blog read.
The company went on to add that it has increased the size of the teams that review reports of breach of code, claiming this will help them respond quicker, as well as leveraging proprietary spam-fighting tools to find other potentially violating accounts similar to those reported.
Twitter claims it has “already seen results”, with an increase in account suspensions and “this type of activity” shifting off of Twitter.
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It also added that it was co-operating with law enforcement bodies “when appropriate” as well as other organisations working to counter extremist content online.
“As an open platform for expression, we have always sought to strike a balance between the enforcement of our own Twitter Rules covering prohibited behaviors, the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and the ability of users to share their views freely – including views that some people may disagree with or find offensive.”
While the challenge of sourcing out terrorist content on the internet is difficult, the company said it is engaging with the authorities and other organisations to find solutions to this critical issue and “promote powerful counter-speech narratives”.
Governments around the world have been putting pressure on social media companies to take more vigorous measures to tackle online activity aimed at promoting violence.
In December, US politicians put forward a bill that would force such companies - including Twitter and Facebook - to report any apparent terrorist activity they find.
The EU Internet Forum was launched on 3 December to counter violent extremism and prevent radicalisation on social media platforms. It brought together EU Member State Interior Ministers, the EU Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator, major Internet companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Ask.fm, Europol and the European Parliament, with the aim of better detecting and addressing harmful material found online by utilizing public-private partnerships.