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Twitter Says Nearly 300,000 Accounts Suspended for Promoting Terrorism

Twitter suspended nearly 300,000 accounts in the first six months of 2017 for “violations related to promotion of terrorism,” according to the latest Twitter Transparency Report published on Tuesday.

A total of 299,649 accounts were suspended for violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service related to the promotion of terrorism between January 1 and June 30, which represents a 20 percent reduction over the previous six months.

Twitter’s internal spam-fighting tools flagged 95 percent of the suspended accounts, and 75 percent of those were suspended before sending a single tweet.

A total of 1,200 accounts were reported by governments for promoting terrorism, an 80 percent reduction in the previous period. Twitter says it “actioned” 92 percent of those reported.

The report says a total of 935,897 accounts were suspended for promoting terrorism between August 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017.

Turkey tops Twitter removal requests

Forty-six countries requested the removal of user accounts, with roughly 90 percent of requests coming from Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany. Turkish government agencies and police requested the removal of 1,995 accounts, while Russia requested 1,123 removals. Turkish courts ordered the removal of 715 accounts. Twitter said it complied with 11 percent of Turkey’s requests and 55 percent of the Russian requests.

The transparency report noted that, of the eight legal requests that content be removed from the accounts of verified journalists or news outlets, five came from Turkey, which regularly leads the world in requesting the shuttering of social media accounts or removal of content.

“Whenever possible under Turkish Law, Twitter filed legal objections in response to court orders involving Turkish journalists and news outlets, arguing that those decisions may be contrary to protections of free expression. None of our objections prevailed,” the report noted.

In total, Twitter filed 273 legal objections over Turkey’s court orders on the grounds they didn’t comply with free expression principles, or that the order did not specify its content.

Within Russia, Twitter withheld 87 accounts and 566 tweets in response to government requests. The report noted that 741 requests were related to promotion of suicide, which is illegal under Russian law. The other requests related to child pornography (233), extremism (202), or gambling (18).

Right-wing accounts

In France and Germany, Twitter said it withheld content in 12 percent of the 909 requests from its partner groups in France. The requests were related to a domestic law against incitement to discrimination and glorification of crimes against humanity, according to the transparency report.

Likewise, the German requests were related to a law prohibiting “symbols of unconstitutional organizations.” The German criminal code outlaws Nazi and other right-wing symbols outside of art or research.

 Fergus Kelly contributed reporting in the Grasswire Open Newsroom.

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