Twitter Shuts Down 125,000 Accounts for Promoting Terrorism

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  • Company building staff that monitors terrorist threat reports
  • Twitter says it's cooperating with governments on threats

Twitter Fights Online Terrorism, 125K Accounts Suspended

Twitter Inc. said it suspended more than 125,000 accounts since the middle of last year for promoting or threatening terrorism, marking its progress after several meetings with high-level government officials about the spread of influence from the Islamic State.

The company said Friday in a blog post that it also has increased the size of its teams that review reports of terrorist activity on the social-media website and has cooperated with law enforcement when it suspects from tweets that users are involved in terrorist activities.

“We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter Rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service,” the San Francisco-based company said. “As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area.”

Twitter’s action comes after a meeting last month in Silicon Valley among White House officials and technology company executives that included discussions about how to combat the use of social media by terrorists, according to a senior Obama administration official. It’s a more proactive stance for Twitter, which generally removes content only after it has been flagged by other users in order to continue to promote free speech on the platform. The company is also proving its willingness to help law enforcement without giving up control over who gets to be on the network.

“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,” Twitter said in the post. “There is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance.”

The administration welcomed Twitter’s move as a constructive step for combating terrorism, the administration official said.