Social Media

Twitter Removes Half A Million Accounts Linked To Extremism

More than half of them were suspended during the last half of 2016

Social Media
Illustration: Diana Quach
Mar 21, 2017 at 2:32 PM ET

Twitter has suspended more than half a million accounts since August 2015 in an effort to “combat violent extremism,” according to a transparency report released on Tuesday.

More than half of these suspensions took place during the last six months of 2016 when the company removed 376,890 accounts for violating their policy against promoting terrorism. Twitter said it was able to identify 74 percent of these accounts through “internal, proprietary spam-fighting tools.”

While the company has released transparency reports since 2012, this was the first year Twitter published information on governments’ reports against violations of the Terms of Service. The “alarming crackdown on free press and freedom of expression across the globe” has prompted the company to track requests from governments and verified reporters, Twitter said in the report. The company said the report includes 10 countries — Afghanistan, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Estonia, Haiti, Portugal, Switzerland, Thailand, and Uzbekistan — that submitted removal requests from law enforcement for the first time.

Turkey submitted the most requests at 3,076, which is in keeping with recent years. However, this was the first time France submitted the second highest volume of requests, at 1,334, more twice as many as Russia’s requests of 522.

Overall, Twitter received 13 percent more removal requests between July and December 2016 than it did during the first half of the year.