Twitter Has Suspended 125,000 Accounts for Jihadi Propaganda


Twitter announced it shut down more than 125,000 pro-terrorism accounts primarily linked to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

“Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups,” the social media firm said in a blog post tweeted from its account. “We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism.”

“As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area,” it added. “Since the middle of 2015 alone, we’ve suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.”

Twitter said its rules make clear that such acts, or any violent threat, are not permitted on its service.

By shutting down thousands of terrorism-related accounts, the firm said it has joined the fight against ISIS and other jihadist groups.

The social media platform claimed it has increased the size of the teams used to screen accounts for possible links to terrorist activity in an effort to rebut criticism that it needs to do more to counter extremism on its platform, notes The Washington Post.

“We have increased the size of the teams that review reports [of terrorist activity], reducing our response time significantly. We also look into other accounts similar to those reported and leverage proprietary spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially violating accounts for review by our agents,” said the company. “We have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter.”

The social media firm has been under pressure by the Obama administration and groups that track jihadi activity online to take more action to counter violent extremism on the Internet, including ISIS propaganda.

Twitter said it cooperates with government entities and NGOs working to fight extremist content online.

United Press International (UPI) reports, “The company’s announcement comes less than a month after White House officials and tech company executives discussed methods for combatting terrorist use of social media to recruit and expand their influence.”

Positioning itself as a defender of freedom of speech, the firm said, “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.”

“There is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgement calls based on very limited information and guidance,” it added.

Brett McGurk, President Obama’s special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, expressed his support for Twitter’s actions soon after the social media’s announcement.

In January, the widow of a military contractor killed in terrorist attack in Amman last November sued Twitter, alleging that Twitter “knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits,” reports the Post.

“The Florida woman is seeking damages for allegedly violating the Anti-Terrorism Act by providing material support to terrorists,” adds the report. “Her civil suit was filed in federal court in Oakland, Calif. Though national security lawyers say her case is unlikely to succeed, it has increased the pressure on social media companies to remove posts linked to terrorism.”

Twitter reportedly began carrying out mass suspensions of accounts linked to ISIS and other terrorism groups in early 2014, shutting down 10,000 accounts last April over a 24-hour span.

An agenda obtained by The Washington Post revealed that an unusually large gathering of President Obama’s top national security officials last month, including the attorney general and FBI director, met with tech firm senior executives in Silicon Valley to discuss ways to use technology to “disrupt paths to radicalization to violence” and “identify recruitment patterns” as well as to measure efforts to countering radicalization.

The gathering followed the president’s televised call after the deadly San Bernardino, Calif. shootings last December for tech leaders to  “make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”


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