An image grab taken from a propaganda video uploaded on June 8, 2014, by the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) allegedly shows ISIL militants driving in vehicles near the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. Militants battled Iraqi security forces in Tikrit on June 11, 2014, after jihadists seized a swathe of the north, including second city Mosul, officials said. Heavy clashes rocked the north of Tikrit, hometown of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, a provincial councillor said. AFP PHOTO / HO / ISIL == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / ISIL" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES, AFP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE'S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND LOCATION WHICH CANNOT BE INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED === / AFP / ISIL / -
© AFP

Twitter has increased dramatically the number of accounts it suspends for promoting terrorism, cracking down on Isis and its affiliates that are using the platform to win over new recruits.

The San Francisco-based messaging platform said daily suspensions had risen 80 per cent in the past year to total of 350,000 since mid-2015, with increases in the number of accounts suspended coming after terrorist attacks from Nice to Orlando. Some 235,000 have been suspended in the six months since February. 

Twitter and other social media companies have been under pressure from governments, law enforcement agencies and counter extremism activists who believe they should be doing more to track terrorists’ use of their services and push them off the sites faster. 

The company said on Thursday that it had expanded the teams that review reports of terrorism and improved their technological tools and language skills. Twitter insists there is no “magic algorithm” for identifying tweets from terrorists but says that tools, rather than reports from other users, helped identify a third of the accounts shut down in the past six months. 

“Our response time for suspending reported accounts, the amount of time these accounts are on Twitter, and the number of followers they accumulate have all decreased dramatically,” a Twitter spokesman said. “We have also made progress in disrupting the ability of those suspended to immediately return to the platform.” 

Twitter, the most public of all the social media sites, has long faced criticism about being slow to crack down on hate speech, be it terrorism, threats of violence or misogyny. 

The announcement came as think-tank Demos published a report into Islamophobia on Twitter, finding that 7,000 Islamophobic tweets were sent in English on the platform each day in July this year. Demos said Islamophobia erupted on the platform the day after the attacks in Nice. 

The UK and the US governments have been among those demanding that social media companies do more to help them in their fight against terrorism. They propose that the companies assist them in creating “counter-extremism narratives” to reach especially young people seen as at risk of joining terrorist groups before they are radicalised. 

Twitter said it is working with non-governmental organisations including Parle-moi d’Islam in France, Imams Online in the UK and the Sawab Center in the US to “empower” voices against violent extremism. 

Earlier this year, technology companies including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Microsoft signed a European Commission code of conduct on illegal hate speech. They committed to review requests to remove illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours, to work closely with each other and to support education programmes that encourage independent counter-extremism speech and critical thinking about terrorism.

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