Skip to main content

Twitter has closed 125,000 accounts suspected of promoting terrorism

twitter job cuts q3 2016 version 1477340647 pew news source
Anthony Quntano / Creative Commons
Terrorist groups have used social media effectively, particularly Twitter, to disseminate propaganda and recruit sympathizers, among other practices. Twitter and other social networks have been criticized for not doing enough to stop terrorist activities online, but Twitter has just revealed that since 2015, it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts “for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS,” also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh.

The report, posted on Twitter’s Policy blog, is the first time the social network has provided details of the efforts made in fighting extremism. They include increasing the size of teams that review reports, to reduce response time; looking into accounts similar to those reported; and using spam-fighting tools to look for “potentially violating accounts.”

Since mid-2015, we have suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts. Read more here:

— Policy (@policy) February 5, 2016

The company says it has cooperated with law enforcement agencies when appropriate, and are partnering with “organizations working to counter extremist content online,” such as People Against Violent Extremism and Institute for Strategic Dialogue. It’s also sending its global public policy team to events and training sessions on countering violent extremism. After the November 13 attacks in Paris, in 2015, Twitter reportedly met with French officials on developing counter-strategy measures to combat terrorism.

Twitter campaign in #Saudi leads to closure of 300 #Daesh accounts. #UnitedAgainstDaesh

— مركز صواب (@sawabcenter) October 11, 2015

Twitter says the network is an “open platform for expression” that strikes 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.”

But as we have seen, for every account that’s shut down, more are created. Twitter acknowledges that, saying there is no “magic algorithm” for identifying terrorist content and “forced to make challenging judgement calls based on very limited information and guidance.” The company says it will continue to enforce those rules and work with authorities and organizations “to find solutions to this critical issue and promote power counter-speed narratives, while other researchers are developing technologies that could help Twitter. Free-speech advocates will no doubt questions if this could lead to censorship, as Twitter and other social networks are faced with the difficult task of providing an open forum.

Editors' Recommendations

Les Shu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
I am formerly a senior editor at Digital Trends. I bring with me more than a decade of tech and lifestyle journalism…
X seems to have deleted years of old Twitter images
The new X sign replacing the Twitter logo on the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

The social media platform formerly known as Twitter and recently rebranded as X appears to be having trouble showing images posted on the site between 2011 and 2014.

The issue came to widespread attention on Saturday when X user Tom Coates noted how the famous selfie posted by Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars in 2014, which quickly broke the “most retweets” record, was no longer displaying. Later reports suggested the image had been restored, though, at the time of writing, we’re not seeing it.

Read more
X says it’s squashing the bug that deleted Twitter images and links
The new X sign replacing the Twitter logo on the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

X, formerly known as Twitter, says it’s working to restore potentially millions of images and links that suddenly and rather mysteriously disappeared from the platform in recent days.

“Over the weekend we had a bug that prevented us from displaying images from before 2014,” the company said in a post on its Support account on Monday. “No images or data were lost. We fixed the bug, and the issue will be fully resolved in the coming days.”

Read more
Snapchat hopes its new AI selfie feature will be a moneymaker
A screenshot of Snapchat's new AI-powered Dreams feature.

Snapchat Dreams

Snapchat was quick to jump aboard the AI bandwagon when it launched its “My AI” chatbot in February. And now the platform has released another feature that, like My AI, also harnesses generative AI.

Read more