When social media do nothing about terrorism, the critics complain. And when the social media do something, the critics complain.
"Some guys do nothing but complain," as Rod Stewart, well, complained.
But it's true with Twitter's fight against terrorism, according to a New York Times story. The microblog firm just announced it had suspended about 10,000 Islamic State accounts for "tweeting violent threats." It's just a tiny fraction of the estimated 90,000 such accounts linked to Islamic State -- which, the newspaper points out, is also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh -- but it sounds like a decent start.
Users who also oppose ISIS, though, accuse Twitter of a weak p.r. stunt that does nothing to halt the hate online. The objections, and Twitter's answers, are part of this fairly short, 535-word story.
But the Times takes the risky route of using only unnamed sources for this piece. It also risks imbalance in focusing solely on what Twitter is doing and ignoring the kind of hatred Twitter is trying to stem.
Evidently, the social media giant is increasingly sensitive about its image. According to the Times, the firm has long fought efforts to misuse its system:
The suspensions came against a backdrop of rising criticism that Twitter has allowed the Islamic State to exploit the social network to spread propaganda, glorify violence and seek recruits.
Twitter previously acknowledged suspending as many as 2,000 ISIS-linked accounts per week in recent months.
The Twitter representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, attributed the surge of suspensions in part to a widely publicized effort by ISIS opponents, including some hacking groups and online vigilantes, to expose suspect accounts and report them as violators.
The Times acknowledges a dilemma faced by Twitter, which seeks to promote free speech yet snuff out talk that leads to murder. Curiously, the article doesn't use the term "hate speech," although ISIS' threats would certainly seem to qualify.
I liked the lore in this story, like an alliance of ISIS opponents -- "including some hacking groups and online vigilantes" -- that find and report the online terrorists. Some of the users worry that the account deletions will make it harder to watch the terrorists, although others applaud Twitter for trying to "deny ISIS a social media platform."