Twitter Announces 235,000 Accounts Suspended for Hate Ties

In a blog post published on Thursday, Twitter announced that it has suspended over 235,000 accounts since February. Since mid-2015, the company reported, it has suspended over 360,000 accounts total, in light of its policy banning violent threats and promotion of terrorism.

The company has received criticism from Congress, as well as security experts, for permitting ISIS and its supporters to use the site.

“With this latest critical move, Twitter has really set the right tone in the fight against nefarious content on its platform,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told JTA. “By suspending accounts that have regularly promoted terror and other deeply troubling content, Twitter has taken an important step forward in combating cyberhate.”

In its Thursday post, Twitter included a tweet from July that stated activity related to ISIS (also known as Daesh) has been almost cut in half in two years.

The father of the lone American victim in the ISIS massacre in Paris last November is suing Twitter, along with Google and Facebook, for criminal negligence in allowing ISIS’ videos to spread across the internet. A judge in the California District First Court recently dismissed a lawsuit filed in January against Twitter. The original complaint charged that Twitter “knowingly permitted the terrorist group ISIS to use its social network” to expand its terror operations.

The media and popular Twitter users have criticized Twitter over the past year for not doing enough to stop racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic abuse on the site. The most recent controversy came over the actor and comedian Leslie Jones decided to leave Twitter temporarily after receiving hundreds of racist tweets.

Milo Yiannopoulos, the ultra-conservative blogger for Breitbart News, led the attack on Jones, posting many racist images on Twitter and providing racist updates on his attacks on Jones on Breitbart.com. Twitter suspended Yiannapolous’ account, but many of the accounts that posted racist images and tagged her, including @evyarb9000, @whispererofcats and @lord_jagi.

The Jewish reporter Jonathan Weisman also left Twitter earlier this summer after receiving hundreds of anti-Semitic messages. He wrote several articles about the experience for the New York Times. Several of the accounts that Jonathan Weisman cited in his articles as having gone unsuspended by Twitter has since been suspended.

In its Thursday blog post, Twitter noted that it has gotten better at keeping people suspended from the platform from making new accounts, as well as decreased its response time in suspending accounts after terrorist events.

“As we mentioned in February, and other companies and experts have also noted, there is no one “magic algorithm” for identifying terrorist content on the Internet,” the blog post stated.

Twitter reported that the site has over 313 million monthly active users.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter @aefeldman.

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Twitter Announces 235,000 Accounts Suspended for Hate Ties

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