Twitter is a powerful double-edged sword. While it lets celebrities and companies communicate directly with their fans and gives anyone with a computer or a phone an equal-sized megaphone to shout from, the last few years have shown a poisoned edge where puppet accounts have been used to harass various cultural and social groups. Twitter has been slow to address this, but things are getting better. The company spoke during a transparency report about its efforts to crack down on harassment and protect freedom of the press.
In the second half of last year, the company suspended 377,000 accounts for “violations related to promotion of terrorism.” That comes out to about 63,000 accounts a month, which Reuters notes is up from 24,000 per month at the same time in the previous year. More and more, those accounts are being spotted by Twitter’s internal spam-detection tools. Of accounts recently suspended for advocating political or religious violence, 74 percent were identified by Twitter’s tools rather than through reports.
Twitter is trying to protect freedom of the press, too
For the first time, Twitter spoke out about requests coming from governments to suppress information posted by verified journalists and news organizations. Twitter received 88 such requests during the second half of 2016, with 77 of them coming from Turkey specifically.
Twitter did not, it said, take action on the “great majority” of those requests and even filed legal objections where possible. Court orders in Turkey forced the company to take down 15 tweets and 14 accounts.