Twitter cuts 125,000 accounts for promoting ‘terrorist acts'

Twitter suspends over 125,000 accounts due to 'terror' threats or promoting ‘terrorist acts'

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Twitter's logo is displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York

Twitter Inc has shut down more than 125,000 terrorism-related accounts since the middle of 2015, the company said in a blog post on Friday, most of them linked to DAESH.

Twitter has said it only takes down accounts when they are reported by other users, but said that it has increased the size of teams monitoring and responding to reports and has decreased its response time "significantly."

When accounts are reported, Twitter said it looks at ones that are similar and uses spam-fighting tools to identify other violent accounts, which it said has resulted in more suspensions.

The announcement was especially notable because Twitter has said little about its efforts to combat DAESH and other terror-related content even though it has been criticised for not doing enough to stop those groups from using the service.

DAESH has heavily relied on the 300 million-person site, as well as others, to recruit fighters and propagate violent messages and videos.

Twitter updated its policies last month to explicitly ban "hateful conduct."

The US government has pressured technology companies to cooperate and help them identify terror-related accounts, though Silicon Valley has been wary of engaging with government officials.

In January, a high-profile delegation of top national security officials, including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch flew to San Jose to meet tech industry leaders from Twitter, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc , and Google parent Alphabet Inc, but most companies, including Twitter, did not send their chief executive officers.

Still, Twitter said in a blog post that it has cooperated with law enforcement when appropriate, noting that in July 2015 Comey praised Twitter as "very good and thoughtful and hardworking at trying to shut down [terrorism-related] accounts."

"There is no 'magic algorithm' for identifying terrorist content on the internet," Twitter said in its blog post.

It added that it tries to strike a balance between enforcing its rules on prohibited behaviors, the needs of law enforcement and the desire by users to share their views - "including views that some people may disagree with or find offensive."

TRTWorld, Reuters