Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) use is quite rampant among white nationalists and self-identified Nazi sympathizers, according to a study being released on Thursday. The study found that the number of followers for such users is often higher than that of militant Islamists, and they use Twitter with “relative impunity,” according to Reuters.
Sharp rise in followers
The study, which was conducted by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, examined 18 prominent white nationalist accounts, including that of the American Nazi Party. Researchers found that they had 3,500 followers in 2012. Since then, they have seen a sharp increase in followers, with the total exceeding 25,000.
“White nationalists and Nazis outperformed ISIS in average friend and follower counts by a substantial margin. Nazis had a median follower count almost eight times greater than ISIS supporters, and a mean count more than 22 times greater,” the report stated.
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J.M. Berger, author of the report, added, “White nationalists and Nazis operate with relative impunity.”
The study’s findings are in contrast with the general belief of declining ISIS influence on Twitter amid crackdowns targeting the militant group. The company has waged an aggressive campaign to suspend Islamic State users.
In a blog post last month, the company said that since mid-2015, it has shut down 360,000 accounts that were threatening or promoting terrorist acts, as per its definition. Currently, Twitter is facing scrutiny over its content removal policies. Also the micro-blogging company has long been under pressure to crack down on Islamist fighters and their supporters.
Why did Twitter stock jump yesterday?
In other Twitter news, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, Twitter co-founder EV Williams said the company needs to analyze all options amid ongoing speculation that it’s a takeover target. This news sent the stock up by as much as 5.8%. When Emily Chang of Bloomberg asked Williams whether Twitter can remain an independent company, he declined to comment.
But then he added, “We’re in a strong position now, and as a board member we have to consider the right options.”
William’s comment comes at a time when Twitter is frequently mentioned as an acquisition target. In early August, the company’s shares went up 9% when there was an unsubstantiated speculation that former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud were teaming up to buy the company.
On Wednesday, Twitter shares closed up 4.52% at $19.21. Year to date, the stock is down almost 14%, while in the last year, it is down more than 28%.