Twitter ramps up efforts against bots

Tyrone Stewart

Twitter phoneTwitter has made changes to the way it deals with malicious automated accounts as it steps up its fight against the big issue of abuse on its platform.

The microblogging site is making it more difficult for automated accounts to be created by now requiring new accounts to confirm either an email address or a phone number when they sign up. Twitter says it will work closely with experts on this to ensure that users in high-risk environments where anonymity is imported are not harmed by the change. This update can be expected later this year.

In addition, Twitter said it is auditing existing accounts to look out for signs of possible automated signup, making sure that all accounts have passed a security check. So far, the change has prevented over 50,000 spam signups a day, according to the company.

With the audit, the social platform has taken action against a number of suspected spam accounts which primarily bulk followed verified or high-profile accounts during signup. As a result, Twitter warns that some people may see their follower counts drop, though they may see the numbers return if account owners pass Twitter’s challenge.

Elsewhere, Twitter reports that it identified and challenged more than 9.9m potential automated accounts each week in May through its machine learning tools that identify and take action against accounts, rather than waiting for them to be reported. And the microblogging site is reducing the visibility of suspicious accounts, putting them into a read-only state and not letting anyone new follow them while they are under challenge.

Finally, Twitter said it is now automating some processes where suspicious account activity is seen, such as lots of tweets with the same hashtag or using the same ‘@’ constantly without getting a reply from that account.