Twitter combats extremism: Over 125,000 terror-linked accounts taken off-line

Since the beginning of its increased efforts to combat extremism, Twitter has seen an increase in account suspension and shift of activity off twitter.

February 6, 2016 09:20
2 minute read.
Social Media

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and Youtube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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On Friday, Twitter took to its official blog to announce that over 125,000 terror linked accounts were deleted from its platform due to content promoting terror or threatening violence, primarily related to Islamic State.

With the proliferation of pro-ISIS and jihad encouraging pages on social networks such as Twitter, social media has grown to be a driving force behind terrorism, giving an easily accessible platform to the tech-savvy generation which connects extremists with would-be jihadis worldwide.

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Twitter condemned the use of its platform for such purposes, emphasizing that its "rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service."

Yet cyber jihad has grown to be all too familiar and difficult to control.

As accounts are removed from respective networks, new ones are immediately launched in their place, brewing extreme-Islamic sentiment that serves as a catalyst for violence and inspires confused youth to join the likes of IS or al-Qaida.

"Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups," the Twitter post read. "As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area."

Twitter has historically taken down accounts only when reported as suspicious or offensive by other users. To improve the efficiency of its system, the company said it increased the size of its report-reviewing teams, reduced its response time significantly, and expanded its review mechanism to include searching for unreported accounts with similar content, leveraging "proprietary spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially violating" pages.

Since the beginning of its increased efforts to combat extremism, Twitter has seen an increase in account suspension and shift of activity off twitter, perhaps to less regulated sites.

Touching upon its engagement with the government, Twitter said it cooperates with law enforcement only "when appropriate."

"As an open platform for expression, 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,"  the company said.

"As many experts and other companies have noted, 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."

In spite of these challenges, Twitter vowed to continue its aggressive fight against online extremism and to cooperate with relevant organizations and government authorities in order to "to find solutions to this critical issue and promote powerful counter-speech narratives."

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