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Twitter now removes 214% more spam accounts during ramp-up efforts against bad actors

Earlier this year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, along with three other executives who head product and business safety teams, hosted a live Q & A session of 45 minutes with users. During the livestream, Dorsey said that Twitter's main goal was to improve the health of the platform. According to Twitter's latest transparency figures, the work they've done to implement security measures and reduce the amount of content from bad actors is paying off.

Twitter says that year by year it is removing 214 percent more accounts for violating spam policies. In May, he identified more than 9.9 million potentially unwanted and automated accounts a week, compared with the $ 6.4 million he found every week in December 2017. There was also a drop in spam reports this year.

On Twitter's corporate blog, Yoel Roth, head of the Twitter platform, and Del Harvey, vice president of trust and security of Twitter, write: "The average number of spam emails received decreased. average of about 25,000 per day in March, to about 17,000 per day in May. "

Not only is Twitter fighting spam, but it has suspended more than 142,000 applications that violated Twitter's rules in the first quarter of this year – more than half being suspended in a week and several in a few hours.

"We have maintained this proactive pace of action, eliminating an average of more than 49,000 malicious apps per month in April and May, and we are increasingly using automated and proactive detection methods to detect uses. abusive of our platform before they have an impact on anyone's experience, "say Roth and Harvey.

Acquisition of Smyte

According to Twitter, he uses automated processes and machine learning tools to identify and remove malicious content and spam. Last week, Twitter announced the acquisition of Smyte, a technology company specializing in security, spam and security issues.

"Their tools and review process will be powerful additions to our own tools and technologies that will help us protect Twitter," said Twitter's security team in a blog post announcing the acquisition . The transition to the Twitter team did not happen as smoothly as Smyte had hoped. The same day the acquisition was announced, TechCrunch reported that Twitter had immediately closed the access to Smyte's platform, leaving Smyte's existing customer base without access to the API . (According to TechCrunch, Twitter declined to comment on the situation, but made phone calls to Smyte's customers to help solve the problem.)

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I asked some digital advertising agencies if they believed that Smyte's Twitter acquisition was somehow related to a drop in advertising dollars on the platform due to platform spam issues . Aaron Goldman, CMO for 4C, who is a certified Twitter partner, says his company sees only the growth of advertising budgets on Twitter. According to the quarterly report of 4C on the state of the media, the fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 both showed an increase in advertising spending compared with the previous year. (In the fourth quarter of 2017, advertising spend on Twitter grew 60% from one year to the next, by number of 4C.)

Akvile DeFazio, founder and president of Akvertise, a social media marketing agency, explains that she has shifted her Twitter budgets in recent months, but only because of a lack of money. targeting options and not an influx of spam on the application.

New security measures

In addition to buying a new technology designed to combat spam and improve security measures, Twitter also announced new security and safety initiatives to tackle manipulation on the platform . One includes reducing account metrics related to bad actors in real time. This means that if Twitter identifies an account as spam or malicious, follow-ups, "likes" or "retweets" made by the identified account will not be reflected in the account statistics.

"If we put an account in a read-only state (where the account can not interact with others or tweet) because our systems have detected suspicious behavior, we remove it from the follower and commitment counters until he passes a challenge, such as confirmation of a phone number, "write Roth and Harvey.

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Twitter will also display a warning about read – only accounts and will not allow them to get new subscribers until the account has been able to prove that it 's safe. not act of a robot or an automated account.

Twitter also allows a new registration procedure that requires confirmation via an email address or phone number and audits existing accounts to identify those who show signs that they may have been registered via an automated process. The new registration process, which will be launched later in the year, aims to make it harder to register spam accounts by bad actors and bots.

"We will work closely with our Trust & Safety Council and other expert NGOs to ensure that this change does not harm someone in a high – risk environment where the" anonymity is important. "

According to Twitter, his audit to identify bad accounts has prevented more than 50,000 spam account records a day. The company claims that such spam accounts are primarily created as "tracking spammers" – accounts that automatically or "in bulk" follow high-level accounts. Twitter says the new security measure will have an impact on some people as some followers may fall.

"When we contest an account, the following items from that account are hidden until the account owner passes this challenge." This does not mean that accounts that seemed to lose followers did something about it. they were the targets of the spam we are cleaning now. "

Accounts that display suspicious activity – high volume tweets with the same hashtag or tag a user without the answers from the account mentioned – are now identified by an automated process that may require a user to fill out a reCAPTCHA form or reset their password.

The overall goal of Twitter

All of these efforts are part of Twitter's overall goal of improving the health of the application and to follow the ongoing efforts of the company to better secure the platform. -form. More recently, Twitter has changed the way conversations are conducted by paying more attention to how users relate to the actual content of their tweets. He also launched new policies around political ads and gave American political candidates new ways to identify who they were and what races they ran.

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Twitter, as well as Facebook, was criticized after the 2016 presidential election for having turned a blind eye as foreign entities turned social platforms into battlefields, doing what they could to interfere in the US elections. But Twitter's security issues go way beyond the 2016 elections. The application has long been plagued by harassment issues. In 2017, Twitter put in place new policies to stop the harassment – but instead of going after the accounts responsible for the harassment, the application was giving people only ways to block or steal. dull the abusive content. The latest measures of the company feel more complete and more tactical in terms of stopping accounts behind abusive behavior and malicious content.

About the author

Amy Gesenhues is the general reporter for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for land and search engine marketing. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning columnist for a number of dailies in New York, Texas. With over ten years of experience in marketing management, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more articles from Amy.