Twitter Pulls The Plug On More Terrorist Accounts

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Twitter suspends 360,000 accounts for ‘promotion of terrorism’, but warns there is no magic algorithm to ID suspects

Twitter has suspended 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to the promotion of terrorism.

It comes after Twitter reported in February that it had suspended more than 125,000 accounts since mid-2015 for the same offence, which brings the total suspended accounts to 360,000.

Suspended Accounts

Twitter made the announcement in a blog posting, in which it warned there is no magic algorithm to identify those Twitter users who are actively promoting terrorism.

“Today we are announcing that we have suspended an additional 235,000 accounts for violating our policies related to promotion of terrorism in the six months since our February 2016 post,” wrote Twitter. “This brings our overall number of suspensions to 360,000 since the middle of 2015. As noted by numerous third parties, our efforts continue to drive meaningful results, including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter.”

The microblogging service said that its daily suspensions are up over 80 percent since last year, and says there has been spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks.

terrorist“Our response time for suspending reported accounts, the amount of time these accounts are on Twitter, and the number of followers they accumulate have all decreased dramatically,” it said. “We have also made progress in disrupting the ability of those suspended to immediately return to the platform.”

Twitter said it has expanded the teams that review reports and it is also working with other social media platforms to share information and best practices for identifying terrorist content. It still relies mainly on user reports to identify potential terrorist accounts.

But it said that identifying terrorist supporters remains a tricky task.

“As we mentioned in February, and other companies and experts have also noted, there is no one ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet,” Twitter said. “But we continue to utilise other forms of technology, like proprietary spam-fighting tools, to supplement reports from our users and help identify repeat account abuse.”

“In fact, over the past six months these tools have helped us to automatically identify more than one third of the accounts we ultimately suspended for promoting terrorism,” it said.

Twitter also reported that it has expanded partnerships with organisations working to counter violent extremism online.

“Finally, we continue to work with law enforcement entities seeking assistance with investigations to prevent or prosecute terror attacks,” it said.

Terror Crackdown

Twitter has gained an unfortunate reputation for online abuse over the years, but more recently concern has centred on terrorists and extremists such as ISIS using Twitter to spread their twisted messages.

In December the microblogging service revised its policies in order to better deal with trolls, terrorists and others that post abusive content on Twitter.

That came after former chief executive Dick Costolo admitted the company “sucks” at dealing with trolls, and that some of the online abuse is “horrifying”.

To help stop people abusing the service, Twitter introduced a “report abuse” button into every tweet back in 2013.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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