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Twitter suspends 125,000 accounts for terrorism links

Social media site Twitter has suspended 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts. Most of them were related to the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS) group.

Twitter said the more than 125,000 accounts had been frozen since mid-2015. The move comes after pressure from governments, especially after the November attacks in Paris and December attacks in southern California, which were linked to IS. The site had been urged to take more steps to control IS' and similar groups' efforts to recruit new members and to plan violent acts.

"Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups," Twitter said in a statement on the site. "We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service."

The San Francisco-based company, which claims 332 million active users, said it has rules to discourage activity that advances terror, but that it was also boosting staff and using technology to filter violence-promoting content.

However, the company cautioned: "As many experts and other companies have noted, there is no 'magic algorithm' for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance."

"In spite of these challenges we will continue to aggressively enforce our rules in this area and engage with authorities and other relevant organizations to find viable solutions to eradicate terrorist content from the Internet and promote powerful counter-speech narratives."

Pressure to act

The move comes after pressure from the White House, which said

more should be done

"when the use of social media crosses the line between communication and active terrorist plotting." Similar statements have come from the

European Commission

and France, which passed

emergency measures last year

to close websites or social media accounts which encouraged terrorist actions.

In the US Congress, legislation was proposed requiring online communications services to report potential terrorist activity.

Facebook updated its "community standards" last March, saying it would not allow groups advocating "terrorist activity, organized criminal activity or promoting hate" a presence on its site.

jm/gsw (Reuters, AFP)

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