Twitter Purges 70 Million Accounts In Two Months, Equal To 20% Of Active Monthly Users

Twitter is purging accounts at a rapid pace - suspending over a 70 million accounts in two months as it ramps up its battle against "fake and suspicious" accounts, reports the Washington Post.

The social media giant has more than doubled its rate of suspensions since October, when the company suggested that Russia used fake accounts to manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

While the 70 million accounts suspended in May and June represent an amount equal to roughly 20% of Twitter's 336 million active monthly users - the company says that the purge mostly applies to inactive users, or bot accounts, instead of the revenue-generating accounts of real people. 

[T]he crackdown has not had “a ton of impact” on the numbers of active users - which stood at 336 million at the end of the first quarter - because many of the problematic accounts were not tweeting regularly.

Legitimate human users -- the only ones capable of responding to the advertising that is the main source of revenue for the company -- are central to Twitter’s stock price and broader perceptions of a company that has struggled to generate profits. -WaPo

Another aspect of the crackdown is the policing free speech in a world where the 1st Amendment seems to have sprouted a "safe space" clause. 

“One of the biggest shifts is in how we think about balancing free expression versus the potential for free expression to chill someone else’s speech,” said Twitter VP for Trust and Safety, Del Harvey. “Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe.

Many on the left have criticized Twitter for allowing bots and trolls to amplify disinformation. "Though some go dormant for years at a time, the most active of these accounts tweet hundreds of times a day with the help of automation software," writes WaPo. 

“When you have an account tweeting over a thousand times a day, there’s no question that it’s a bot,” said Samuel C. Woolley, research director of the Palo Alto-based Digital Intelligence Lab at the Institute for the Future. “Twitter has to be doing more to prevent the amplification and suppression of political ideas.”

That said, Facebook VP of advertising, Rob Goldman, said in February after the indictment of 13 Russian nationals running a "bot farm" that the majority of advertising purchased by Russians on Facebook occurred after the election - and was in fact designed to sow discord and divide Americans. 

In January, Twitter emailed almost 1.4 million accounts - or .04% of their Active Monthly Users, to warn them that they may have engaged with Russian accounts. Two weeks later, that number had more In February, Twitter deleted 200,000 tweets they say came from "Russian troll" accounts.  

“I wish Twitter had been more proactive, sooner,” said top ranking Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.). “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.”

Twitter's decision to forcefully target suspicious accounts came on the heels of an intense internal debate over whether to implement new detection tools. 

One previously undisclosed effort called “Operation Megaphone” involved quietly buying fake accounts and seeking to detect connections among them, said two people familiar with internal deliberations. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of private conversations.

The name of the operation referred to the virtual megaphones -- such as fake accounts and automation -- that abusers of Twitter’s platforms use to drown out other voices. The program, also known as a white hat operation, was part of a broader plan to get the company to treat disinformation campaigns by governments differently than it did more traditional problems such as spam, which is aimed at tricking individual users as opposed to shaping the political climate in an entire country, according to these people. -WaPo

While some Twitter executives were reluctant to purge suspected fake accounts - even questioning the legality of doing so - others pointed out that the platform is very easily manipulated. One engineer illustrated the problem by buying thousands of fake followers for a Twitter manager, according to WaPo, citing two people familiar with the account. 

A person with access to one of Twitter’s “Firehose” products, which organizations buy to track tweets and social media metrics, provided the data to the Post. The Firehose reports what accounts have been suspended and unsuspended, along with data on individual tweets. -WaPo

In March, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced a company-wide program to promote "healthy conversations" on the platform. Two months later, they made major changes to algorithms used to police bad behavior. 

Next week, another announcement is expected along these lines

In order to implement suspect accounts, Twitter has built on the technical expertise of AI startup Magic Pony, which the company acquired in 2016. The acquisition "laid the groundwork that allowed us to get more aggressive,” Harvey said. “Before that, we had this blunt hammer of your account is suspended, or it wasn’t.”

Harvey says that Twitter will take further measures down the road, telling WaPo "We have to keep observing what the newest vectors are, and changing our ways to counter those,” adding “This doesn’t mean we’re going to sit on our laurels.”

Comments

TrajanOptimus brushhog Fri, 07/06/2018 - 19:33 Permalink

We are divided as a nation because Liberals are Socialist douchebags. The Russians had nothing to do with our division, it was the Liberal douchebag teachers at our Liberal douchebag universities and that worthless POS Muslim President we had.

I bet out of those 70 million account suspensions, 10 million were actual conservatives. I was ONE of those whose account got purged.

Twitter, Facebook, Google.. They are all socialist activist corporations that should be classed as utilities and regulated into unbiased platforms of communication and personal expression. If you do not like what someone says, just block them. Not hard.

In reply to by brushhog

Slomotrainwreck TrajanOptimus Fri, 07/06/2018 - 19:44 Permalink

From Natural Heath News - YouTube, Google and Facebook have been systematically banning videos about CBD oil, herbal medicine, the dangers of vaccines and even pro-America videos.

Today, I'm calling for all banned videos to be found and posted at real.video, which is now launched in a beta format.

If you've been banned -- or know someone who has -- make sure they know real.video is rolling out right now.

In reply to by TrajanOptimus

Sir Edge Slomotrainwreck Fri, 07/06/2018 - 20:47 Permalink

 

Dear Health Ranger... [The Owner of Natural News, Mike Adams, as well as one of the head writers]

Well... Imagine That (((Google))) and (((Facebook))) are banning videos and censoring stories/articles... etc...

and the Health Ranger is complaining about it ???

and yet...

If you have read Naturalnews articles as i have done over the last 7 years you will SEE that Naturalnews has written a NUMBER of (((pro Zionist articles))) over the the last 7 years... so Mike Adams... I guess it must be a shock to find out that you are also simply cattle even after you have consistently supported Zionist propaganda over the years...

Well laddie -- What goes around comes around... !!

Welcome To The Party Pal... 

In reply to by Slomotrainwreck

Westcoastliberal TrajanOptimus Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:39 Permalink

Couldn't agree more. And the ownership limits on bcast Radio & TV need to be rolled back to '96, along with a return to the Fairness Doctrine.  It would put an end to this MSM bullshit, and the FCC could extend it to cable by hijacking the satellite uplink/downlink licenses.

We're talking Equal Time, which puts guys like Rush and Hannity out of biz, but I'm sure they could figure out how to make it interesting with the new rules.  Voila, no more fake news.

In reply to by TrajanOptimus

Consuelo Fri, 07/06/2018 - 19:40 Permalink

Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe.

Ms. Del Harvey.

Any guess what sort of household this little snowflake grew up in - and who wore the pants...?

 

 

Yen Cross Fri, 07/06/2018 - 19:44 Permalink

 I can't wait to see how these Libtard states start contemplating sales tax enforcement across state lines.

  The borders need to be enforced, period.

  If Kalifornia doesn't start waking up, some old school people are going to come in and start doing massive evictions.

  Nancy Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein, Schiff, Waters. had better start packing!

louiedafag Fri, 07/06/2018 - 20:20 Permalink

"free speech doesn't really mean much if you don't feel safe."??????????

And the brain dead idiot that said this is a vp. 

I happen to like speech which challenges and educates, makes me think. sometimes that feeling isn't the most comfortable.

Maybe just drug the libtards all the time so they never have to feel anything. 

Action and thought are the parents of the child, which is the feeling. Start acting positive, you'll soon start to think postive, and then, wonder of wonders, maybe you'll experience positive feeling. In other words, grow up libtards.

your right to free speech supersedes my feelings. i don't care for your speech, i tune you out. 

MuffDiver69 Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:08 Permalink

Anyone who takes twitter seriously is an idiot. I check a few people and have never joined or read comments...I have never met a person outside a journalist or society media personality who takes this crap serious. If a tweet or advertisement changes your mind..then why bother...you are sheep

Lord Raglan Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:56 Permalink

They suspended me and wouldn't let me back in unless I gave them my phone number (to be associated with my account).  Didn't do it.  Won't.  They can kiss my ass.  I'm never visiting Twitter ever again.  It is a total waste of time.  I am happier not to waste one more second on it.  

tahoebumsmith Fri, 07/06/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

Has Twitter ever produced a profit?

what about Amazon or Uber or Tesla?

what the fuck is really going on here other then over leveraged profitless Companies to give Wall St. chips to play in the Casino?