Byline: Julian Hattem
Twitter is updating its internal policy to make clear that users can report people who appear to be promoting terrorist activity, after lawmakers on Capitol Hill raised concerns.
The micro-blogging service on Thursday added new language to its stance on abusive behavior noting that statements “threatening or promoting terrorism” were against its rules.
Users who find accounts that are promoting terrorist groups can file a complaint, just like accounts promoting other acts of violence or harassment, Twitter said.
“Unlawful use, violent threats and targeted abuse have always been violations of our rules, and we recently added language to our Abusive Behavior Policy to remind users of that,” a Twitter spokesman said, while noting that the company’s terms of service have not changed. “We will continue to review user reports and remove violent, abusive content that violates our rules.”
The move comes in response to a March request from lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had feared that members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other groups were using Twitter in order to “disseminate propaganda, drive fundraising and recruit new members.”
Twitter has maintained that its previous policy covered terrorist activity, but nonetheless added the new language in response to the lawmakers’ request.
Groups like ISIS have used Twitter and other social media services to their advantage, both to spread their message and to gain recruits around the world. In response, the White House in February unveiled a plan to counter the group’s message and quickly respond to it.
Twitter has been active about deleting terrorist propaganda and often takes down violent and extremist posts mere moments after publication.
Earlier this month, it claimed to suspend about 10,000 accounts linked to ISIS in a single day.
The company has gone through a gradual process of updating its policy for abuse in recent weeks, in order to crack down on various forms of harassment and “revenge porn.”
Last week, it deleted a phrase from its policy banning “direct, specific” threats.