Twitter’s Anti-Terror Efforts Making an Impact, Study Shows

Twitter’s consistent suspension of English-speaking, Islamic State-sympathetic accounts between August and September of 2015 resulted in substantial disruption.

by / February 18, 2016
Twitter

A new study out of George Washington University took a look at Twitter’s ongoing efforts to remove terrorist sympathizers from the platform and found that the tactic had a substantial effect.

According the report, announced Feb. 18 by the Program on Extremism, the social media platform’s consistent suspension of English-speaking, Islamic State-sympathetic accounts between August and September of 2015 resulted in substantial disruption to the number of followers per account.   

“Suspensions have a measurable effect in suppressing the activity of ISIS networks on Twitter,” J.M. Berger, co-author of the study, said in a release. “Occasional large-scale suspensions, such as we saw after the Paris attacks, have dramatically reduced the size of ISIS’ presence on social media, and a lower level of routine suspensions hold the network flat in between these events.”

The social media company, and others, have been at the center of criticism that they are not active enough in removing those associated with the pro-terror group, ISIS since the attacks in Paris, France, in November and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. 

“We found suspensions typically had a very significant detrimental effect on these repeat offenders, shrinking both the size of their networks and the pace of their activity,” the report reads. “Each user had a different trajectory, with some recovering more robustly than others, but all showed consistent declines over the monitored period.”

Twitter reported the suspension of more than 125,000 sympathizer accounts since mid-2015 in a Feb. 5 blog post.