Far be it for me to ever give the barbaric miscreants in ISIS any sort of credit for anything, but they have been undeniably effective at spreading their hateful propaganda across various forms of social media.
Obviously, ISIS is an utterly despicable cell of terrorists that printed word cannot condemn nearly enough.
But facts are facts, and ISIS’s social media presence has played an instrumental role in its proliferation.
One terrifying reason for ISIS’s social media success? According to a study penned by Majid Alfifi, Parisa Kaghazgaran and James Caverlee of Texas A&M University, and Fred Morstatter of the University of Southern California, Twitter seems to give ISIS a little longer leash before dropping the ban hammer on the group.
Titled “Measuring the Impact of ISIS Social Media Strategy,” the article provides harrowing empirical evidence that Twitter is more lenient in disciplining ISIS than other accounts that also eventually get suspended due to objectionable content.
The red line in the graph denotes all suspended accounts. When most accounts posting offensive content get to around 1,000 posts, over 90 percent of them are suspended.
Looking at the dotted line that represents ISIS, you can clearly see that to reach similar suspension rates as other accounts, those accounts have to post more. At 1,000 posts, ISIS accounts see about an 80 percent suspension rate.
That’s a double-digit percentage difference. That is not insignificant.
“Starting from a (sic) 24k seed accounts known to support ISIS, we were able to uncover a much larger larger group of potentially ISIS related accounts (170k users),” the study states in its “Next Steps” section.
To be completely fair, we’re not accusing Twitter of housing a cell of ISIS sympathizers or anything. ISIS might just be really good at hiding its digital tracks and staying one step ahead of Twitter’s scouring eye. So it’s not fair to skewer Twitter by saying it holds any favoritism toward ISIS.
What is fair to skewer Twitter about is its prioritization of responsibilities.
The study shows that Twitter already drags its feet when it comes to banning ISIS-related accounts. You know when Twitter doesn’t drag its feet? Seemingly when it comes to banning conservatives.
All it takes is a pro-life tweet, a message promoting Christianity or a critical tweet of the left to draw Twitter’s ire. Even if the tweet is two months old, in some cases.
Again, I’m completely OK with Twitter’s banning practices. It’s a private company, so it can ban anyone it wants.
What I’m not OK with is the dereliction of responsibility when it comes to banning legitimately dangerous content. I think Alex Jones is a trash heap. But there is no way that his conspiratorial rhetoric is anywhere near as dangerous as ISIS using social media to recruit future jihadists.
Twitter needs to do better, plain and simple.
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