Twitter Closes 70 Million Fake Accounts

Troll © Clara, Shutterstock 2012

Massacre of the trolls as micro-blogging service shuts down 70 million fake and suspicious accounts

Twitter has carried out a wide ranging purge of what it calls fake and suspicious accounts as part of a clear up of the platform.

The micro-blogging platform has reportedly shut down up to 70 million fake and suspicious accounts since May, says the Washington Post.

Indeed, Twitter is said to be suspending close to 1 million accounts a day according to data obtained by the US newspaper.

Troll purge

Twitter also confirmed the rate of account suspensions to the Washington Post, which has more than doubled since October, when the company revealed under congressional pressure how Russia used fake accounts to interfere in the US presidential election.

Indeed, such is the aggressive removal of unwanted accounts that there are concerns that it may result in a rare decline in the number of monthly users in the second quarter, which ended last week, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak.

Twitter declined to comment on a possible decline in its user base, but the extent of account suspensions is one of several recent moves by Twitter to limit the influence of people it says are abusing its platform.

“I wish Twitter had been more proactive sooner,” Senator Mark R. Warner, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is quoted by the Post as saying. “I’m glad that – after months of focus on this issue – Twitter appears to be cracking down on the use of bots and other fake accounts, though there is still much work to do.”

Last month Twitter revealed in a blog post that its systems were identifying and challenging more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week. That’s up from 6.4 million in December 2017, and 3.2 million in September.

“There is a cat-and-mouse game between the botmakers and social networks, whereby botmakers quickly update their methods to avoid detection,” he said.

“With breakthroughs like conversational AI, you’ll see bots in the future being harder to detect.”

Poor record?

It was back in December 2015 that Twitter promised to tackle “abusive behaviour and hateful conduct” on its microblogging service.

It came after former chief executive Dick Costolo previously admitted that the company “sucks” at dealing with trolls.

Indeed, it is fair to say Twitter did at one stage have an unfortunate reputation for online abuse, and terrorists and extremists such as ISIS using Twitter to spread their twisted messages.

Labour MP Stella Creasy in 2013 also sought help from police after receiving a stream of abuse on Twitter, including threats of physical and sexual violence.

Twitter introduced a “report abuse” button into every tweet back in 2013.

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