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Twitter Opens On Its Anti-Terrorism Efforts

February 6, 2016 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Just like every other technology, social networks can be used for all kinds of purposes, some of which are not exactly noble, to put it mildly. Social media terrorism is one of those dangerous endeavors which are recognized and discussed at all levels of society. As Twitter revealed yesterday, the company has discontinued more than 125,000 accounts in the last half a year alone for promoting terrorism and terrorism-related activities, many of which were connected to the notorious Islamic State (ISIS) group in one way or another. While one of the most popular social network on the planet still only suspends accounts reported by users and doesn’t take a more proactive stance against terrorism-friendly tweets apart from automatically reviewing accounts similar to those reported, its monitoring and responding teams grew in size during the aforementioned period, consequently “significantly” decreasing their average response time. In general, Twitter claims that it’s pleased with the results of its anti-terrorism endeavors not only because of the number of suspended accounts but also because of the fact that terrorism-related activities are shifting away from the popular social network, according to the company’s representatives.

In addition to that, Twitter revealed that it has partnered with multiple organizations working on combating extremist content on the Internet in the last several years. Some of its recent partners include People Against Violent Extremism and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, as well as domestic law enforcement when the company deems the situation “appropriate”. Namely, Twitter specifically pointed out its constant effort to find a balance between sanctioning extremist behavior and allowing its users to share their opinions regardless of how offensive they are. Of course, this is a rather gray area that requires case-by-case analysis and decision-making which the company naturally believes it does well, even though it was occasionally criticized for not doing enough to combat online terrorism activities by the government officials in the past.

Twitter’s announcement comes not long after numerous technology giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook have decided to work more closely with the US government regarding the issue of social media terrorism. While some reports claim that the Islamic State is heavily relying on Twitter and similar networks to spread its propaganda and recruit new fighters, it’s rather difficult to quantify such claims and therefore estimate how efficiently these latest anti-terrorism measures taken by Twitter will cripple ISIS online activities which have lately shifted its focus towards less populated, i.e. monitored social networks and encrypted instant messaging solutions. One thing is sure, though – they are definitely helping, even though the US government is naturally constantly pushing Twitter and other major social media and technology firms to do more.