Twitter clips wings on terror tweets

Social network suspends roughly 125,000 accounts linked to terror groups.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

Twitter is fighting 140-character blocks of terrorism on its platform.

The San Francisco-based social network said Friday that since the middle of the year it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts with suspected links to the terrorist group Islamic State. Twitter has increased the size of its teams reviewing reports of accounts connected to extremism.

"The rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service," Twitter said in a blog post detailing the actions.

Twitter says it has shut down more than 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, mostly related to the Islamic State.


Twitter said it has been working with groups including People Against Violent Extremism and has attended summits at the White House and the United Nations to help counter extremists online.

Disclosure of the account suspensions underscores the efforts social networks, including Facebook and YouTube, are taking to keep hate speech off their respective services. With hundreds of millions of people logging in each day, Islamic State and other radicals have found social networks to be fertile recruiting grounds. Social networks have increased the size of teams overseeing posts and traffic.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and a ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, called Twitter's move "a positive development."

The fight against terrorists' use of social media will require a sustained and cooperative effort between tech companies and law enforcement, he added in a written statement. "The elimination of 125,000 accounts propagating violence and hate is an important part of the fight against radicalism."

Twitter's action comes about a month after a handful of leading tech companies met with top federal law enforcement and security officials in Silicon Valley to discuss combating terrorism. The meeting was called after attackers inspired by the Islamic State killed more than 130 people in Paris and 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

Twitter said Friday that it has always sought to strike a balance between cooperating with law enforcement and allowing users to engage in free speech.

"There is no 'magic algorithm' for identifying terrorist content on the Internet," the company said. "So global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance."