Twitter closed 235,000 accounts in last 6 months for ‘promotion of terrorism’

© Mario Anzuoni
Global social media service Twitter says it pulled the plug on 235,000 accounts for spreading of extremism in the past six months. A massive spike in suspensions followed major terror attacks, Twitter states.

“While our work is not done, today we are announcing that we have suspended an additional 235,000 accounts for violating our policies related to promotion of terrorism in the six months since our February 2016 post,” a statement by Twitter .

The is the latest move by the tech giant since it started cracking down on social media abuse by terrorist members and sympathizers last year.

The overall number of accounts shut down since June 2015 by the service now stands at 360,000.

Twitter has been prompted to react to an increased use of its service by those sharing terrorist propaganda in the wake of numerous terror attacks that shook Europe, Middle East and the US.

“Since that announcement, the world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe. We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform.”

Following coordinated deadly bombings that hit Brussels airport and a metro station in March 2016, tweets carrying further threats surfaced online, including on Twitter.

Teaming up under the Hashtags #Brussels, #Paris, and #BrusselsLockdown, sympathizers of terrorist acts issued threats of further “gun and bomb attacks.” Warnings targeting other countries like Germany followed suit. The Bavarian city of Ansbach was then hit by a suicide bomber on July 24, leaving 15 people injured. The attacker, a Syrian refugee, pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) before the assault.

In its latest statement Twitter says that the number of accounts taken down is closely linked to the immediate aftermath of terrorist acts.

“Daily suspensions are up over 80 percent since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks.”

In the wake of a mass shooting that took place last December in the US town of San Bernardino, US President Barack Obama called on the tech giants to “make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.” In January this year representatives of the country’s intelligence agencies, including the NSA, FBI and the CIA met with American online companies’ chiefs to discuss joint efforts in “war on terror.”

According to Twitter it is closely working with law enforcers and other social media platforms to track down terrorist content.

Though admitting there is no ”magical algorithm” to do so, Twitter added that by employing additional staff and ensuring new methods it has produced solid results.

“Our response time for suspending reported accounts, the amount of time these accounts are on Twitter, and the number of followers they accumulate have all decreased dramatically,” Twitter declared.