No Magic Algorithms – Twitter Uses New Tools, Teams and Partnerships to Combat Terrorism

Rafia Shaikh
Posted Aug 22, 2016
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Twitter has suspended over 360,000 accounts for violating its prohibitions related to promotion of terrorism since mid 2015. Over 235,000 of these accounts were suspended in the past six months only. The company has said that daily suspensions have surged by 80 percent, a rate that spikes following terrorist attacks.

The move to actively suspend accounts engaged in the promotion of terrorism came after the company designed its public policy to combat subversive content propagated through its networking site. In a blog post, the company noted that it has expanded their regulatory team to cater to diverse users, utilizing new tools and language expertise. In the previous years, Facebook, Twitter and other internet intermediaries were criticized by the activists that their content monitoring policies don’t work as effectively with other languages as they do with English.

Diverse teams and partnerships help Twitter with CVE online

“There is no one ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet. But we continue to utilize other forms of technology, like proprietary spam-fighting tools, to supplement reports from our users and help identify repeat account abuse,” Twitter said in the blog post. The site also shared that its new tools have helped the company “automatically identify more than one-third of the accounts we ultimately suspended for promoting terrorism.”

We will continue to invest in both technology and other resources in the future and you can expect us to update our progress regularly as part of our Transparency Report beginning in 2017.

The company is now utilizing support not only from its own tools and teams, but also from other companies working to counter violent extremism (CVE) online. “We work with respected organizations such as Parle-moi d’Islam (France), Imams Online (UK), Wahid Foundation (Indonesia), The Sawab Center (UAE), and True Islam (US) to empower credible non-governmental voices against violent extremism.”

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Thanks to its expanded efforts, improved tools, diverse teams, and its partnerships with CVE organizations, the micro blogging platform has managed to disrupt this sort of communication happening on the site. Twitter said that these efforts have started to drive meaningful results, “including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter.” The company has also made progress in disrupting the ability of suspended accounts immediately returning to the platform.

Twitter also shared that it responds to “valid legal” requests issued by law enforcement agencies seeking assistance with investigations or working to prevent terror attacks. Twitter releases Transparency Reports twice a year, publicly sharing information on government requests it receives. Interested to know how many requests your government has sent to Twitter? You can access these Transparency Reports to have a peek.

You can also help Twitter with blocking violent extremism online by reporting the abusive content. Follow the official instructions to report violent content, accounts or tweets to the Twitter content regulation team.

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