Twitter axes 235,000 more 'terror-related' accounts


Twitter confirmed Thursday it has suspended 360,000 accounts since mid-2015 for violating its policies banning the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism.

The San Francisco-based company said in a blog post that it is also better at preventing suspended users from immediately returning to the platform using different accounts, which has been a problem in the past.

The 235,000 suspended since February adds to a further 125,000 banned accounts in the previous eight months.

“The world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe. We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform,” Twitter’s blog post said.

Attacks prompt suspensions

The company said its rate of daily suspensions is up 80 percent since last year, though it did not provide specific numbers. The suspensions spike immediately following terrorist attacks, it said.

The self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist group has used social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook, to spread propaganda and recruit fighters and supporters from around the world.

IS Propaganda on social media

“Islamic State” (IS) has used social media extensive to spread its propaganda and recruit fighters

The micro blogging platform has previously come under fire from Washington and third-party groups for not doing enough to stop accounts linked to IS militants. Earlier in the year, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton complained that Twitter was not doing enough to keep militants from exploiting its platform.

Response improving

Watchdog groups recently praised the firm’s swift response to online celebrations from Islamic extremists glorifying a July truck attack in Nice, France, that killed more than 80 people.

The company relies primarily on user reports to identify offending accounts, and said it has increased the size of the team reviewing reports.

Although it says an algorithm cannot identify extremist propaganda, it relies on spam-fighting tools to help identify repeat offenders, including those who create new accounts when they are suspended.

“Our work is not done,” the blog post said, adding: “Our efforts continue to drive meaningful results, including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter.”

Last week, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Twitter that accused the company of supporting IS by allowing it to sign up for and use Twitter accounts.

The judge agreed with Twitter that the company cannot be held liable because federal law protects service providers that merely offer platforms for speech, without creating the speech itself.

mm/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)