Twitter Announces New Measures to Combat Malicious Bots and Trolls

Apple iPhone 8 plus with Twitter app on the screen lying on black desk with headphones, MacBook Pro and iPad, top view.

Twitter outlines the steps it is taking to curb unethical practices on its site, such as spamming and trolling.

With increasing complaints of trolls on Twitter, the micro-posting platform has now initiated several steps to address this menace.

In a detailed blog post, Twitter has gone into the details of the steps it’s taking to rid the platform of spam and trolls. The company also shared the positive results it has obtained through these efforts so far.

Here are some of the actions taken by Twitter that you should know:

No More Automated Accounts

One of the serious issues that Twitter faced was related to content bots. These manufactured accounts were sending out automated trolling-heavy tweets, making many genuine members on the platform feel uncomfortable.

An extension of this problem, there are also many cases in which one person registers multiple accounts to be used for malicious purposes, like trolling other users on the platform. That’s why earlier this year, the company updated its terms of service to prohibit automated retweets from multiple accounts.

In a blog post published last week, Twitter again restated its commitment to improving the platform and announced a host of new measures it is implementing to continue the effort.

Twitter will ask new subscribers to provide their phone numbers and email addresses. This way, the automated accounts using bots can be identified before they ever enter the platform.

Further, Twitter will deploy machine learning techniques on its site to engage with such suspicious Twitter accounts where the responses to tweets or questions are posed in a particular manner. Once spotted, these accounts will be taken off the platform.

The fact that this tactic has worked can be gauged from the figures quoted by Twitter; it says in its blog that there were 9.9 million such accounts isolated per week in the month of May alone.

This is almost three times the amount of  accounts that were detected and dealt with in September of last year and double that found in December.

To confirm that these bots were indeed responsible for spammy content, Twitter says in its blog that the daily number of reports of spam messages have dropped from 25,000 to 17,000 in a matter of just two months, from March to May this year.

In addition to these points, Twitter has also found a way to keep some of the offensive tweets from being visible to the public at large. That is another way of stopping trouble before it begins to brew.

A Lot of Internal Scrutiny

Twitter has been involved in looking inward in the past few months to know what they have been doing wrong and how those wrongs can be reconciled.

Twitter’s basic objective of sharing news as it happens instantly across the world had to be protected and restored.

Undesirable elements creeping in and planting fake information to try to change public opinion go against the site’s policy.

The revelation that there were attempts made, particularly from Russia, to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election implicated Twitter as one of the main channels used to spread misinformation. This alerted the company to the risks its app was vulnerable to.

The recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal pushed the envelope further, prompting Twitter to act decisively against all such elements on its site that caused the negative impact of its social media platform.

Twitter has re-stated its objective of making the health of the conversations as one of the parameters it will use to measure the tweets and then take action accordingly.

There Were Commercial Implications as Well

Longing on web application Twitter on computer screen.

With increasing complaints of trolls on Twitter, the micro-posting platform has now initiated several steps to address this menace.

Twitter had to worry about the consequences of such damage to its reputation particularly among the image-conscious corporate clients who contribute to its revenue through their advertisements.

Their continued association with Twitter in the light of these adverse opinions about what happens on the site, thanks to some unscrupulous elements spreading hatred and spamming and trolling, would have affected the image of their products advertised on Twitter.

This is a natural fallout and it is learnt that some top consumer firms, such as Unilever, had issued threats to Twitter that they would pull out of their advertising partnership.

It is possible that developments like this pushed Twitter to act swiftly. But whatever the underlying reason, the result of their clean-up activity is going to benefit a lot of members and Twitter as a company.

Twitter has also listed a few things account-holders could do to keep themselves safe and to prevent anyone from stealing their login details and posting unwanted content.

The main suggestion here is to use the site’s two-factor authentication feature to log in. Additionally, Twitter recommended that users review the third-party apps that have access to their accounts.

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