from the get-a-bigger-hammer dept.
Twitter has been engaged in a game of whack-a-mole with accounts linked to "terrorism" since 2015, and has announced that it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts as part of its efforts to "combat" extremism:
In its ongoing effort to combat violent extremism, Twitter announced Friday that it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts since mid-2015 because of what it called their connections to terrorist or extremist groups, primarily ISIS.
NPR's Aarti Shahani reports that the company says there is no "magic algorithm" to identify terrorist content on the Internet, so they're forced to make make challenging judgment calls based on "very limited information and guidance." "The company says it's trying to strike the right balance between enforcement against tweets that break the rules, the needs of law enforcement, and free expression," Aarti reports.
In a statement, Twitter also said it has "increased the size of the teams that review reports," enabling it to respond more quickly to terrorism-related posts. "We have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter," the company said.
The statement comes just weeks after a woman sued Twitter, accusing the platform of giving voice to ISIS. Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband Lloyd died in a November attack on a police training center in Amman, Jordan, said Twitter "knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits," according to the complaint. The suit also alleged that "ISIS members use Twitter to post instructional guidelines and promotional videos, referred to as 'mujatweets.'"
Google's chairman Eric Schmidt has written an op-ed to The New York Times calling for tools to disrupt speech on social media:
Technology companies should work on tools to disrupt terrorism - such as creating a hate speech "spell-checker" - Google's chairman Eric Schmidt has said. Writing in The New York Times, Mr Schmidt said using technology to automatically filter-out extremist material would "de-escalate tensions on social media" and "remove videos before they spread".
His essay comes as presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton again called on Silicon Valley to help tackle terrorism, specifically seeking tools to combat the so-called Islamic State. "We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS," she said during a speech in Washington DC.
From the NYT editorial:
In Myanmar, connectivity fans the flames of violence against the Rohingya, the minority Muslim population. In Russia, farms of online trolls systematically harass democratic voices and spread false information on the Internet and on social media. And in the Middle East, terrorists use social media to recruit new members. In particular, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has harnessed social media to appeal to disaffected young people, giving them a sense of belonging and direction that they are not getting anywhere else. The militants' propaganda videos are high on style and production value. They're slick and marketable. In short, they are deluding some people to believe that living a life fueled by hatred and violence is actually ... cool.
This is where our own relationship with the Internet, and with technology, must be examined more closely. The Internet is not just a series of tubes transmitting information from place to place, terminal to terminal, without regard for those typing on their keyboards or reading on their screens. The people who use any technology are the ones who need to define its role in society. Technology doesn't work on its own, after all. It's just a tool. We are the ones who harness its power.