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Twitter shutters 360,000 accounts for ‘promoting terrorism’

Twitter may finally be winning its war against ISIS.


Andrew Couts


Posted on Aug 18, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 5:46 am CDT

Twitter announced on Thursday that it has shut down 360,000 accounts that it says were used to promote terrorism, up from 125,000 shuttered accounts as of February. 

The newly revealed numbers reveal an uptick in the social network’s efforts to combat the spread of pro-ISIS messaging that has served as a central tool for the terrorist organization. 

“Daily suspensions are up over 80 percent since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks,” the company wrote on its policy blog. “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. We have also made progress in disrupting the ability of those suspended to immediately return to the platform.”

Twitter added that it “collaborate[s] with other social platforms” to better “identify terrorist content.” It is also working with a range of organizations that specialize in countering violent extremism online, including France’s Parle-moi d’IslamImams Online in the U.K., Wahid Foundation, and True Islam in the U.S. And the company is working “with law enforcement entities seeking assistance with investigations to prevent or prosecute terror attacks.”

News of Twitter’s successful targeting of ISIS accounts aligns with a July announcement from the Obama administration, which claimed that ISIS has seen a 45 percent drop in traffic on Twitter in the past two years, representing significant progress in the ongoing struggle to push back against recruitment efforts by terrorist organizations.

The number of English-language pro-ISIS accounts on Twitter was relatively low. A George Washington University study from February found that the network of English-language accounts was only about 3,000. The number of accounts based in Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s primary region of operations, was declining at the time due to both account suspensions and “because of operational security concerns within ISIS and the deaths of some prominent Syria-based network participants,” the researchers wrote.

Twitter’s announcement about its anti-ISIS efforts comes a week after a U.S. federal court in California dismissed a lawsuit accusing the company of providing material support to the Islamic State.

Twitter’s struggle to reign in its users is not limited to ISIS. A more widespread problem stems from homegrown harassment, which the company has failed to tamp down in meaningful ways. That, too, may soon change. The company also announced Thursday the rollout of a new “quality filter” that it says will help users silence negative comments on the social network.

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*First Published: Aug 18, 2016, 7:44 pm CDT