Is Twitter A Global Town Censor? (Data Project)

Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Thwart Terrorists’ Tweets by Mike Isaac.

From the post:

For years, Twitter has positioned itself as a “global town square” that is open to discourse from all. And for years, extremist groups like the Islamic State have taken advantage of that stance, using Twitter as a place to spread their messages.

Twitter on Friday made clear that it was stepping up its fight to stem that tide. The social media company said it had suspended 125,000 Twitter accounts associated with extremism since the middle of 2015, the first time it has publicized the number of accounts it has suspended. Twitter also said it had expanded the teams that review reports of accounts connected to extremism, to remove the accounts more quickly.

“As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area,” Twitter said in a statement, adding that it “condemns the use of Twitter to promote terrorism.” The company said its collective moves had already produced results, “including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off Twitter.”

The disclosure follows intensifying pressure on Twitter and other technology companies from the White House, presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and government agencies to take more action to combat the digital practices of terrorist groups. The scrutiny has grown after mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., last year, because of concerns that radicalizations can be accelerated by extremist postings on the web and social media.

Just so you know what the Twitter rule is:

Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism. (The Twitter Rules)

Here’s your chance to engage in real data science and help decide the question if Twitter had changed from global town hall to global town censor.

Here’s the data gathering project:

Monitor all the Twitter streams for Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. presidency for tweets advocating violence/terrorism.

File requests with Twitter for those accounts to be replaced.

FYI: When you report a message (Reporting a Tweet or Direct Message for violations), it will disappear from Messages inbox.

You must copy every tweet you report (accounts disappear as well) if you want to keep a record of your report.

Keep track of your reports and the tweet you copied before reporting.

Post the record of your reports and the tweets reported, plus any response from Twitter.

Suggestions on how to format these reports?

Or would you rather not know what Twitter is deciding for you?

How much data needs to be collected to move onto part 2 of the project – data analysis?

Suggestions on who at Twitter to contact for a listing of the 125,000 accounts that were silenced along with the Twitter history for each one? (Or the entire history of silenced accounts at Twitter? Who gets censored by topic, race, gender, location, etc., are all open questions.)

That could change the Twitter process from a black box to having marginally more transparency. You would have to guess at why any particular account was silenced.

If Twitter wants to take credit for censoring public discourse then the least it can do is be honest about who was censored and what they were saying to be censored.


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