Twitter bots, disassemble

Social media giants announce new measures to tackle bots and abusers

Social media giants announce new measures to tackle bots and abusers

Twitter Inc. will be implementing a raft of new protection measures aimed at combatting online abuse and malicious automated accounts, the company has announced.

Twitter released details on Tuesday explaining to its users what changes they were making to ensure that their accounts would be harder for undesirables to hack. It will also make it harder for accounts, created by bots, to flood their timelines with unwanted content.

These changes enable users of the social media platform to have “access to credible, relevant, and high-quality information”, reads the blog post.

“This goal, we’ve introduced new measures to fight abuse and trolls, new policies on hateful conduct and violent extremism, and are bringing in new technology and staff to fight spam and abuse”, says Twitter.

Don’t feed the trolls


In recent years, Twitter has seen an increase in the number of malicious bots that have distributed fake news and distorted images, along with troll accounts that spread abuse to millions of users. The impact such malicious actors can have can be witnessed in recent elections from around the world and the damage that may be created when these bots go unchecked.

Twitter directly addressed these fears in their announcement: “These issues are felt around the world, from elections to emergency events and high-profile public conversations. As we have stated in recent announcements, the public health of the conversation on Twitter is a critical metric by which we will measure our success in these areas.”

One way to combat the growth of these troublesome accounts, the company hopes, will be requiring stricter authentication for new users as they will now be required to add two-step authentication when creating new accounts – either with their email addresses or phone numbers.


Image source: Twitter blog

It is not just new accounts that will be under scrutiny, however, as existing accounts will be the subject of an audit by the company “to ensure that every account created on Twitter has passed some simple, automatic security checks designed to prevent automated signups”. This change has prevented more than 50,000 spam signups a day, according to Twitter.

The company are also developing new machine learning algorithms that will find malicious accounts before being tipped off about them, as is the current way of alerting Twitter to abusive bots. Indeed, this new proactive approach is already paying off and the company have said that their systems “identified and challenged more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week”.

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