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Twitter Transparency Report Details Escalating Crackdown On Terrorists

22/03/2017 2:18 AM IST | Updated 22/03/2017 2:18 AM IST

If Twitter has to break a few eggs to scramble the plans of terrorists attempting to use the site, it’s more than happy to oblige.

Since the middle of 2015, the company has broken a little more than 636,248 (metaphorical) terrorist eggs. That’s according to its latest transparency report, released Tuesday, which details the various external information requests Twitter has received in the last six months, and how Twitter has responded.

Of the 636,248 accounts Twitter has suspended overall for promoting terrorism, the company suspended 376,000 in the last half of 2016 alone, marking a sharp increase in enforcement efforts.

For comparison, in the first half of 2016, Twitter suspended around 235,000 accounts. That’s up from around 125,000 a year earlier, most of which were “threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.”

Your grandfather’s al Qaeda, if you wanted to get propaganda, you had to go find it. ... Now all that’s in your pocket. FBI Director James Comey

Fortunately for Twitter employees, internal filters now bear the brunt of the enforcement burden.

The company said 74 percent of the 376,000 terror-promoting accounts it banished most recently were handled by “internal, proprietary spam-fighting tools,” with large spikes in suspensions immediately following terror attacks. An additional 0.015% of requests about suspected accounts came from the government, Twitter said.

Twitter dramatically increased its self-policing in summer 2015 after a study earlier that year by George Washington University identified the social media platform as a major conduit for ISIS outreach. 

“Your grandfather’s al Qaeda, if you wanted to get propaganda, you had to go find it,” FBI director James Comey remarked at the time, applauding Twitter’s efforts to weed out ISIS. “Now all that’s in your pocket. All that propaganda is in your pocket, and the terrorist is in your pocket. ... It’s the constant feed, the constant touching, so it’s very, very different and much more effective at radicalizing than your grandfather’s al Qaeda model.”

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