Twitter tackles extremism by purging 235,000 (more) accounts

Brittany A. Roston - Aug 18, 2016, 4:54pm CDT
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Twitter tackles extremism by purging 235,000 (more) accounts

Twitter has been criticized over what many view as an inadequate level of effort to rid itself of extremist accounts. In light of those criticisms, Twitter has worked toward reversing the trend, and has regularly been purging accounts that promote or are otherwise related to extremism. Back in February of this year, for example, the company announced the suspension of more than 125,000 accounts. Today the company announced that it has upped itself, this time suspending a massive 235,000 accounts.

Squashing extremist Twitter accounts is tricky; typically when one account is suspended, the person behind it quickly makes a new one and picks up where they left off. Still, Twitter prohibits such accounts and is tasked with suspending them as they’re reported. The company has been actively targeting such accounts since its last big announcement on the matter, saying, “We strongly condemn these [terror attacks]…” and the related tweets that promote them.

Since its February announcement, Twitter has suspended another 235,000 accounts over violations of its policies related to terrorism promotion. Overall, the number of accounts suspended for this reason has climbed to 360,000 since summer 2015. In addition, the company says its daily suspension rates have increased more than 80-percent over 2015; not surprisingly, the biggest spikes in account suspensions happen right after terrorist attacks.

Twitter also says the amount of time the account spends live — as well as how many people follow it during its time — have also decreased.

As mentioned, when someone is suspended they can turn around and make a new account. Twitter says it has targeted that and is working in ‘disrupting’ the ability to do so. Details about how it is preventing these new accounts from popping up weren’t provided, though.

User reports are still very important in identifying these extremists accounts, but Twitter says the usefulness of its tools and other methods are growing. Over the last half year, Twitter says its tools were able to identify more than 30-percent of the terror-promoting accounts its has suspended.

The company says it will keep working with law enforcement agencies in relevant matters, and that it has expanded the number of organizations it is partnered with. Twitter is in partnership with the Wahid Foundation in Indonesia, France’s Parle-moi d’Islam, the US’ True Islam, the UK’s Imams Online, and the UAE’s The Sawab Center — all orgs working against violent extremism.

SOURCE: Twitter Blog


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