In the latest development of social media platforms waking up to the reality of extremist groups using social media platforms to rally a call to arms, Twitter announced the suspension of 235 000 accounts for promoting terrorism, bringing the total number of accounts axed since 2015 to 360 000.
In a blog post published on Thursday, Twitter has acknowledged its responsibility as a powerful social tool to mediate and legitimise extremist sentiment – something it seems that has increasingly driven global unrest.
“Since [February], the world has witnessed a further wave of deadly, abhorrent terror attacks across the globe. We strongly condemn these acts and remain committed to eliminating the promotion of violence or terrorism on our platform…”
This comes as a response to political pressure for social media platforms to hold greater user accountability for the promotion of violence.
Earlier this year President Obama urged the necessity of platforms like Twitter to “make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”
Following the December shootings in San Bernardino, California, Facebook also stepped up its game in vetting terrorist sentiment propagated on its platform.
The world’s largest networking site is now quicker to remove users who support or spread terrorist groups and investigates the friends as well of the user in question, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“It has assembled a team focused on terrorist content and is helping promote ‘counter speech,’ or posts that aim to discredit militant groups like Islamic State.”
The Internet from its inception has been idealised as a forum for the achievement of a democratic society, but it calls into question whether all voices deserve a platform readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.
And if not every voice should be heard, it then follows, who should mediate this?
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in an interview to The Wall Street Journal expressed his view that Tech companies “have a social responsibility to not just see themselves as a place where people can freely express themselves and debate issues.”
With Edward Snowden exposing the U.S government spying on its own citizens in 2013, it also calls into question whether it would achieve the ideals of democracy to give governments increasing control over social media.
It seems that the balance is at best slippery.
“There is no one ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet,” Twitter reflected.