Twitter Just Suspended More Than 600,000 Accounts for ‘Promotion of Terrorism’

Twitter received a total of 6,062 government requests for information in the second half of 2016, covering 11,417 accounts

It may be a drop in the bucket, but every drop is significant: Twitter revealed in its Twitter Transparency Report for the second half of 2016 that it suspended 636,248 accounts from Aug. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2016, for “violations related to promotion of terrorism.”

The social network said in the section on government terms of service reports:

During the reporting period of July 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2016, a total of 376,890 accounts were suspended for violations related to promotion of terrorism. Of those suspensions, 74 percent consisted of accounts surfaced by internal, proprietary spam-fighting tools. The government TOS requests included in the table above represent less than 2 percent of all suspensions in the reported time period.

To expand on our past blog posts (from Feb. 5 and Aug. 18, 2016), we have suspended a total of 636,248 accounts in the period of Aug. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2016. We plan to share future updates on our efforts to combat violent extremism by including them in this new section of our transparency report.

Twitter said it received 716 government TOS requests related to promotion of terrorism from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2016, covering 5,929 accounts, and action was taken on 85 percent of those accounts.

Overall, Twitter received a total of 6,062 government requests for information in the second half of 2016, covering 11,417 accounts, and “some information” was produced in 64 percent of those cases.

The social network received a total of 5,676 government requests for account information from January through June 2016.

The 10 countries that submitted the most government requests for account information from June through December 2016 were:

  1. U.S., 2,304
  2. Japan, 977
  3. U.K., 681
  4. France, 501
  5. Turkey, 493
  6. Germany, 275
  7. India, 168
  8. Spain, 130
  9. Argentina, 76
  10. Canada, 51

Twitter also received 894 court orders to remove content and 5,031 removal requests from governments or law-enforcement agencies in the second half of 2016, covering a total of 13,022 accounts.

The social network said some content was withheld in 19 percent of those cases—367 accounts were withheld, 1,113 tweets were withheld and 2,245 accounts had some content removed for violating its terms of service.

Director of global legal policy Jeremy Kessel wrote in a blog post introducing the latest Twitter Transparency Report:

Behind the scenes, we’ve begun the necessary work to include details about terms of service requests we receive from official government requesters through our standard customer-support channels (as opposed to the data we already include based on legal requests). For now, we have added the new government terms of service section to this report with information covering government requests and our response to removing content that violates the Twitter rules relating to the promotion of terrorism. It also includes an update on the company’s continued work to remove terrorist content from our platform beyond government reports.

Along with the new data and the latest reporting numbers for the second half of 2016, there are also a range of other updates across the report. For example, in our global information requests report, we now break out the number of emergency disclosure requests and preservation requests we receive by country. In our legal removals report, we’ve included more specificity around requests to remove Periscope and Vine content. We’ve also added a new section covering our EU Trusted Reporters program.

While we’re excited to have reached our 10th report, there is still plenty of work to be done. We’re more committed than ever to improve our approach and to give the world more meaningful insights and data to better understand the complex global issues we face every day. Transparency will always be part of our DNA and we welcome your feedback.

Image on homepage courtesy of PavelKovaricek/iStock. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.