Twitter Suspends Hundreds Of Thousands Of Terrorist Accounts, Gives Everyone Its 'Quality Filter'

from the today-twitter-settles-all-its-business dept

Twitter's had a bit of a busy day. It made two big announcements within an hour, first saying that it had suspended 235,000 accounts since February for "promoting terrorism." It followed that up by announcing that it was opening up its "quality filter" for everyone. The quality filter used to only be available to "verified accounts" and was apparently one of the few actual benefits for being a "verified" account. Here's how Twitter explains it:
When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior. Turning it on filters lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience. It does not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with – and depending on your preferences, you can turn it on or off in your notifications settings.
From people who have it, they've indicated that it can do a decent, but not perfect, job in blocking purely trollish behavior. However, I still think that my own suggestion from last week makes more sense: rather than building a universal algorithm like this, give every user the tools to build their own quality filters (and to share the "recipes" of those filters). Not everyone has the same determination of what "quality" is. It's fine if Twitter wants to offer its own such filter, but why not open it up and let anyone create quality filters to use and share?

As for the removal of terrorist accounts, this still feels kind of pointless. Twitter talks about how it's getting faster at removing these accounts, and they're not able to build up many followers before they're shut down again, making Twitter a less useful platform for terrorist or terrorist supporters to use. But, again, if we think about Twitter as a protocol like email or a system like the telephone, this feels... weird. No one's clamoring for "we must stop ISIS from making phone calls." Besides, the intelligence community has said, repeatedly, that they get good intel from watching ISIS' social media activity. Shutting down their accounts may seem like a good thing (no one wants ISIS using their technology...), but what if it's actually making it more difficult for the intelligence community to track them?

Filed Under: abuse, isis, quality filter, social media, terrorism, trolls
Companies: twitter


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  1. identicon
    Kenpachi, 19 Aug 2016 @ 10:18am

    Seriously Mike?

    How far do you think you can stretch the phone call analogy?

    Is it possible you've rooted so deep the concept of "internet and its services as public utilities", (fundamentally a good thing, but in one breath conflate the use of a multimedia platform, a social network with "a phone call"? or even multiple phone calls? Really?

    You know better than that, why're you stretching concepts and the real, measurable impact of things so different in nature and scope?

    A tweet, or a collection of them, with audio, video, text, links to other content, etc etc, that becomes a de facto platform for propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, or, if used properly, dissemination of useful information.

    In the wrong hands i.e. used with criminal intent (only one of them being of the terroristic flavor) becomes a megaphone to bring and brainwash people to support a cause. The measurable potential to propagandize, radicalize, and brainwash people, en mass, is orders of magnitude greater than with a phone call, or even multiple phone calls.

    Should I also point out that your one dimensional analysis almost only contemplates this idea that "terrorist use a social network, (a broadcasting platform, to spread their doctrine especially to those that do not belong to their ranks), as merely a communication system that they only use to communicate among themselves? Again, seriously? Why would you go that route? I know you know better.

    In the end you even go so far as to make a case for the intelligence agencies of the world and a supposed hindrance in their ability to collect valuable intel. If that's the case, I submit that we are well past the point of total doom: if you suggest that spy agencies depend on the existence of social networks and other forums to track and strategize to tackle the terrorism threat, that's such an insult to everybody's intelligence that I wouldn't even know where to start to point out the amount of errors and the lack of knowledge in such a statement.

    Even I, a run of the mill nobody, can think of ten ways of tracking and keeping tabs on terror elements, while at the same time, preventing them from brainwashing new recruits into their cause.

    So, your thesis is that, if not for anything else, Twitter et al. should let ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other groups roam freely everywhere they see fit, leverage the power to broadcast their message, potentially to millions of people, all around the world, with each tweet, with each video, with each Facebook post, all because they also could do the same with phone calls?!

    One tweet: potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of people all across the globe. One phone call... Oh I see, that's exactly the same!...my bad... smh

    One YouTube video (or any other video platform): seen and shared by potentially millions, radicalizing and antagonizing young people, gullible people, depressed people, etc. Bringing new blood to their ranks, or new victims they can rape and enslave, then sell and ultimately kill, as happens routinely... All of that is just the same "as making phone calls"

    How can we not see that they could achieve the exact same thing just by robo-calling everyone to their cell phones, or even to their land lines, Mathew Broderic "War Games" style... IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO CONVEY MIKE?

    TL;DR: I've been a long time reader of this amazing web site. I honestly think you're one of "the good guys" (whatever that means). But lately I've sadly seen you slowly but surely descend into the SJW regressive left mentality, and it's really a sad thing to be a witness of.

    I keep coming back, because I really think your heart is in the right place, you want to make this fucked up world a better place, but you insult the intelligence of your readers at large, reaching at straws, making ridiculous posts defending Hillary when no rational defense is possible, attacking and distorting Trump's words, taking him out of context...

    The whole Gawker, Thiel, Hogan debacle, you keep trying to sell poisonous snake oil the vast majority of people will just never buy, your arguments hardly making any sense, I can point out several flaws and lack of honesty in every point you make in that matter, but I still refrain from it. I don't want to contribute to more hate, division, and ultimately more separation of the minds and wills. But that doesn't mean I or anyone else for that matter, is tacitly conceding your views.

    Yeah, I know, you will quickly label me a red-neck Trump supporter, GamerGate basement man-child, butt-hurt and all that jazz, to dismiss my criticism... Sad indeed.

    What would that say, if all that where true, given the fact that I'm a regular to this website for years now...

    In closing, I sincerely hope you take a step back, and ponder deeply upon many core philosophical issues. And of course, I'm the first to acknowledge and admit I'm no where near a nirvana state where I think it's me "who has all the answers, or who has the moral high-ground or it's me who has all figured out, while you're clearly in the wrong"

    Far from it. And for the record, I too think Trump will be a tragic event for the whole world, if he becomes the next President. But also with the Democrat's option. Notice I did not use the word "democratic" in that last sentence.

    Nothing, not even a resemblance of anything democratic about the Clinton Clan and their ilk.

    Anyway, I guess I took the opportunity to let you know how I feel about you as a journalist (or how-ever you like to think of yourself), a social communicator, a lawyer, you put the label, that's not important.

    I still cling to the hope that this site won't become yet another regressive leftist hub, where the most despicable aspects of the human conduct are rationalized, legitimized and justified. Because reasons.

    Take care, I hope you read this.

    PS: I'd love to have a talk with you and discuss, with the level of detail you prefer, all the posts you made that I strongly disagree with, and all the points of contention I have with each of them.

    Cause right now, everyone and their mother is getting more desperate by the minute, no-one can figure Trump out, no angle seems to be working in discouraging people from voting for him. On the contrary, he's getting stronger and stronger with each passing day, and that, as contradictory as it may seem given my past statements, is a good thing in the grander scheme.

    It's so easy, it's so simple... It's so easy to understand, both him and his supporters, the mindset, the physiological profile of the men and women who want him to win the next election over Clinton.

    But that would demand a fundamental willingness to delve into gray areas and nuances, it's a multi-pronged layered issue, not black and white, not republicans vs democrats, not privileged white cis males against regressive feminists, none of that BS.

    It so simple really... and it would be so easy for the leftist main stream media to undermine his cause, and it's hilarious to me to see how they fail time and time again, so far deep in their own flaws that they are effectively impaired from seeing it. It's a sort of intellectual, moral and ethical handicap.

    Both a sad picture to behold, but at the same time a thing of beauty seeing such a moral reprobate bunch swing and miss every time, and only dig a deeper hole for themselves...

    Anyway rant off. Bye. I'll look forward to seeing Regressive Jack Dorsey backpedal on that decision and broadcast to every terrorist organization that their platform is open for business as usual, that they can help themselves, just go to town, because "Think of the NSA!! is the new "think of the children" or something like that"

    Or because "it's the same with phone calls, or written letters"!!

    Hey, don't look at me... Mike Misenik told me so... so it must be the right thing to do, that's where morality lives, safe from floods, and the melting of the poles.

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