Twitter suspends nearly a million accounts for promoting terrorism in two years

Joann Johnston
September 20, 2017

Twitter said the 299,649 removed accounts represented a 20 percent drop in accounts removed during the last reporting period, but provided no explanation for the drop.

Twitter, which reported 328 million active global users its latest quarterly report, said it had removed 935,897 accounts for promotion of terrorism between August 1, 2015 and June 30 this year. First among the nations requesting content be taken down was Turkey, accounting for 45 percent of the requests. The reports came from people who the company refers to as "individuals identifiable as government representatives". New categories of concern include abusive behavior, copyright and trademark. The company says such reports make up 98 percent of flagged items, however they only take action 13 percent of the time.

Even though the company says it has been focused on keeping pro-terrorist content off its site, Twitter notes the largest amount of content flagged to it by the government was for abusive behavior.

Although abusive behavior towards government officials is relatively unchecked, Twitter appears to be doing a better job of eliminating terror content from its platform.

The reduction in the number of removed terrorist accounts come as social media firms such as Twitter and Facebook have come under intense pressure to crack down on terrorist use of the internet to recruit followers and promote violence.

Almost a million Twitter accounts have been suspended for promoting terrorism in less than two years, new figures reveal.

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Twitter said it has made some progress in blocking those suspended from creating new accounts.

"We are reluctant to share details of how these tools work as we do not want to provide information that could be used to try to avoid detection", a Twitter spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Spearheaded by an increased reliance on automated tools to spot suspected nefarious activity, 95 percent of the exiled accounts were shut down by Twitter's internal system - a 21 percent increase from a year ago.

"Instead, 95% of these account suspensions were the result of our internal efforts to combat this content with proprietary tools, up from 74% in our last transparency report". "We can say that these tools enable us to take signals from accounts found to be in violation of our TOS and to work to continuously strengthen and refine the combinations of signals that can accurately surface accounts that may be similar".

Both British prime minister Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron have suggested fining companies that fail to swiftly remove terrorist material from their services, which they say offers "safe spaces" for terrorists and criminals.

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