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Twitter has suspended more than 1.2 million terrorism-related accounts since late 2015

It suspended more than 274,000 accounts just in the last six months of 2017.

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Twitter suspended more than 1.2 million accounts that were promoting terrorism over a two year stretch, the company announced Thursday, including more than 274,000 accounts in the last six months of 2017.

It’s not really the kind of “one million user” milestone anyone likes to celebrate. On one hand, it’s good to know that Twitter is finding and removing these accounts in such vast quantities. On the other hand, it’s scary to think that there are so many terrorism-related Twitter accounts to begin with — and concerning that they keep targeting Twitter as a place to spread their messages.

The silver lining here is that the number of accounts Twitter removed in the back half of 2017 was down more than 27 percent from the last six months of 2016. Twitter says that’s because it’s getting better at dissuading people from creating them to begin with.

According to ReCode, A study released in the fall by George Washington University found that Twitter was indeed the platform of choice for ISIS propagandists in part because creating accounts is so simple.

Twitter does not actively look for terrorist accounts, but instead relies on users to report them. When this happens, though, the company will look at “similar” accounts to see if they violate the company’s terms of service, which prohibit things like violent threats.

Twitter says it has also “increased the size of the teams that review reports, reducing [its] response time significantly” on reported accounts.

This is all good news for government officials, who have been vocal in requesting that social networks like Facebook and Twitter take a more active role in weeding out the bad guys. Both companies claim to do everything in their power to remove these accounts and this material, but they don’t go actively hunting it.

This makes it a challenging job, Twitter wrote in its blog.

“As many experts and other companies have noted, there is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet,” the post reads, “so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgement calls based on very limited information and guidance.”

 

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