How to Understand Twitter’s Account Suspension

Twitter suspends nearly 300,000 accounts

In the first half of this year, Twitter (TWTR) suspended hundreds of thousands of user accounts tied to prohibited activities such as posting content that promotes terrorism.

The company said it suspended nearly 300,000 user accounts, 95% of which it was able to identify and act on using its own platform policing mechanism. Less than 1.0% of the accounts were taken down because of terrorism activities identified by a tipoff from government authorities.

How to Understand Twitter’s Account Suspension

Safeguarding advertisers’ brand safety

Although Twitter has struggled to grow its subscriber base, which stayed flat at 328 million from 1Q17 to 2Q17, the removal of accounts engaging in inappropriate activities is a move that investors will welcome. As the YouTube boycott earlier this year demonstrated, advertisers tend to distance themselves from platforms they perceive as putting their brand safety at risk. The act of taking down accounts engaged in posting inappropriate content implies that Twitter is taking measures to eliminate brand risk to its advertisers, and this could draw more advertisers to the platform.

Escaping penalties

Major advertising brands Ford (F), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Verizon (VZ) fled YouTube after it emerged that some ads on the platform were running next to content promoting hate and violence. In the wake of the YouTube boycott, Facebook and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google stepped up efforts to safeguard advertisers’ brands.

Besides the risk of scaring off advertisers, inappropriate posts can also expose Internet companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google to fines and financial loss. In Germany (EWG), for example, social media companies can be fined more than $50 million if they fail to act quickly to remove offensive posts.