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The Fight Against Disinformation on Twitter

Fake news and disinformation are both rampant in the 21st century. While both elements have always existed in mainstream culture, they're definitely spurred on by the Internet. It's all too easy to spread rumors and lies online. Modern social media are often a goldmine for this kind of nefarious activity.

But at least one social media platform, Twitter, is taking a proactive stance against disinformation. According to a recent report, the team with Twitter currently suspends approximately one million accounts – all of which are spreading fake news or disinformation – on a daily basis.

The Numbers are Rising
One million account suspensions per day may seem like a high number – and it is. In fact, it's twice the amount of suspensions in October 2017. Many see the increase as a direct result to lawmakers who were pushing for greater online scrutiny toward news-related profiles – partly in an effort to deter Russian hackers from interfering in the latest U.S. presidential elections.
A recent blog post from Twitter reads, in part:

"Twitter fights spam and malicious automation strategically and at scale. Our focus is increasingly on proactively identifying problematic accounts and behavior rather than waiting until we receive a report. We focus on developing machine learning tools that identify and take action on networks of spammy or automated accounts automatically. This lets us tackle attempts to manipulate conversations on Twitter at scale, across languages and time zones, without relying on reactive reports."

The blog post goes on to list some of the ways Twitter is ramping up its efforts to fight fake news and disinformation. The list includes:

1. Reducing the visibility of suspicious accounts, ultimately limiting the spread of disinformation in the first place.

2. Improving the sign-up process for new users, thereby making it harder to setup spam accounts.

3. Auditing and analyzing current accounts for spam activity, ultimately making it easier to identify long-term and repeat offenders.

4. Expanding the malicious behavior detection systems inside the Twitter platform, thereby making it easier to spot suspicious activity.

And it isn't all talk. According to recent statistics, Twitter suspended approximately 70 million accounts during the months of May and June alone. The math equates to a little more than one million per day.

These numbers really add up on a long-term basis. According to Twitter's blog post, the company is "now removing 214 percent more accounts for violating our spam policies on a year-on-year basis." In addition, the measures highlighted above "have already helped us prevent more than 50,000 spammy sign-ups per day."

Protecting the General Public from Disinformation

It's clear that Twitter is taking the fight against fake news and disinformation and seriously. As more and more people now rely on the Internet – and in large part, social media – for their news, it's important that these platforms are able to protect themselves – and their audience – from unscrupulous reports. While it's likely a battle that will never end, it's important for the top social media giants to do their part in fight against disinformation.


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