Twitter Suspends 360,000 Accounts Linked To Terrorism, Adds More Features

Twitter has once again shown its determination to cooperate with law enforcement agencies around the world by continuing to suspend more accounts that have anything to do with terror-mongering. The social media giant also said that it has been doing this kind of self-regulation of terrorism-related accounts since June 2015. Since then, the company has eliminated 125,000 accounts.

"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," Twitter said.

To date, Twitter says that it has suspended a total of 360,000 accounts, according to Sky News. The criteria that the company uses as a basis for suspension is any account that either threatens or promotes terrorist acts. The company gave as an example an account or accounts that celebrate or praise a July jihadist truck attack in Nice, France that killed more than 80 people.

Another example is an account owned by Anjem Choudary, who had amassed 32,000 Twitter followers. Choudary also faces jail time for drumming up support for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sky News also reported that last week, "a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Twitter that accused the company of supporting IS by allowing it to sign up for and use Twitter accounts."

The San Francisco-based company discloses that there has been an 80 percent spike in account suspensions which further intensifies after a terrorist attack. While Twitter is a platform that promotes freedom of speech, the New York Times has underscored that the site has also attracted bullies, racists, and other hate groups. The source even said that Twitter has elicited widespread complaints from government agencies, particularly presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Playing the role of the global town square exposes Twitter to all kinds of groups and cultures, making it extremely hard to strike a balance between open communication and abuse control. But when it comes to fighting terrorism and extremism online, the social media giant seems to have the situation under control right now. Twitter makes its stance clear as follows.
"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."
When it comes to protecting women and minorities, however, the New York Times feels that there's more that Twitter needs to accomplish. Bullying and hating often go unchecked on the site. For example, during the so-called Taylorgate, marked by #KimExposedTaylorSwiftParty, it looked as if Twitter were fanning the flames of hatred against Taylor Swift, Us Weekly shows.Similarly, at the height of the Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez or the so-called Jelena Wars, #JustinDeactivatedParty behaved in the same manner, as a People article demonstrates. Clearly, there has to be some sort of an "enough is enough" button somewhere. Right now, Twitter only offers a kind of technical support lifeline. So what happens if that lifeline is busy? It looks like the person being attacked may need to take in all the social media punches until Twitter customer service becomes available.
Bieber received so much flack from Instagram that he had to deactivate his account. It's a miracle he didn't do the same thing to his Twitter account. Definitely, there has to be an alternative to canceling one's account in order to stop a stampede of hatred. And it shouldn't matter which side you're on.

According to the New York Times, Twitter also boosted its manpower significantly to speed up its reaction time for terrorism and extremism issues, but nothing was said about controlling bullies and haters in the app. All that the Twitter Blog promises are more helpful features to come. Surely, nothing can be more indefinite than such a statement.

For now, Twitter has rolled out two features for tweaking notifications and filtering tweets, as follows.

"Starting today, everyone will have the ability to limit notifications to only people they follow on mobile and on turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior."
In conclusion, Twitter seems to have terrorism and extremism down pat. Unfortunately, when it comes to controlling bullying and hate campaigns in Twitterverse, there's still a lot of work left to be done. If its app is truly "self-learning" as Twitter claims in its recent blog, it should learn crowd control soon enough.

[Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images]