Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is helping in the fight against terrorism by shutting down more than 125,000 accounts that were related to the Islamic State (ISIS also known as ISIL or Daesh) since the middle of 2015.
“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,” according to the microblogging company in a blog post.
Twitter made it clear that it is “cooperating with law enforcement entities when appropriate. According to the company, in July last year, FBI Director James Comey recognized its commitment to blocking terrorist content.
Director Comey praised Twitter as “very good and thoughtful and hardworking at trying to shut down [terrorism-related] accounts.”
Twitter expands efforts to fight terrorism
Twitter said the suspended accounts were “threatening or promoting terrorist acts,” and it is continuing it is expanding its effort to combat terrorism. The company increased the size of the teams responsible for reviewing reports, therefore reducing its response time significantly.
Twitter is also looking into accounts similar to those reported and it is taking advantage of its spam-fighting tools to determine other accounts that are potentially violating its rules against terrorism.
The company made its announcement as many of its peers in the technology industry such as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) boosted their measures in monitoring content online. Lawmakers threatened to compel tech companies to report any “terrorist activity” on their platforms to law enforcement authorities.
Furthermore, the company said it has partnership with organizations that are focused on countering extremist content online. Since late 2013, its global policy team attended more than 40 events focuses on countering violent extremism (CVE) and trainings in four continents.
Some of its partners include the People Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. The company attended CVE summits hosted by the White House, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, the UK government, the French Prime Minister, the European Commission, and the United Nations.
Twitter account takedowns were ‘impressive”
“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,” said Twitter.
The company emphasized that there is no magic algorithm for identifying terrorist content on the internet. Despite the challenge of making judgment call based on a very limited information and guidance, Twitter vowed to continue to enforce its rules aggressively when it comes to terrorist-related activities on its platforms.
The company also said it would engage with authorities and other relevant organizations to resolve this critical issue and promote counter-speech narratives.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, commented that the number of account takedowns reported by Twitter were “impressive.” He described the company’s approach in monitoring extremist content as “episodic.
Cong. Adam Schiff said Twitter’s announcement was “very positive development.” He added, “Addressing the use of social media by terrorists will require a sustained and cooperative effort between the technology sector, the Intelligence Community, and law enforcement.”