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Study: ISIS Supporters Behind 46,000 Twitter Accounts

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At least 46,000 Twitter accounts were run by ISIS supporters in the fall of 2014, according to estimates from a report released Friday by the Brookings Institution. This comes in the wake of alleged death threats against Twitter founder Jack Dorsey after the company cracked down on pro-ISIS accounts. One in five of the accounts, the report said, chose English as their primary language, while three quarters chose Arabic. The majority of the accounts claimed Saudi Arabia as their location.

ISIS Twitter Accounts by Country
Brookings Institution

The report recommended more comprehensive research on how groups like ISIS use Twitter and other social media networks. It also pushed for Twitter and the U.S. government to come up with a more proactive strategy for rooting out terrorists. "Social media platforms should consider whether they want to continue with some variation of their current approach, which tends to stomp out fires as they erupt," the report said, "or whether they want to dismantle or degrade the social networks responsible for setting the fires." Free speech groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned in the past that such moves could lead to increased censorship. A Twitter spokesperson responded to the report by saying, "We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit unlawful use and direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

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— Keith Wagstaff

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