On Monday, Twitter shared an update on their work on maintaining conversational health and protecting the integrity of the mid-term US elections, which will be held in November this year. This work ranged from updating their rules, detecting and removing several fake accounts, and introducing new features like electoral labels for election candidates.
Twitter’s actions against misinformation, fake accounts, and other malpractices
The post highlights their efforts in three key areas:
Updates to the Twitter Rules
Twitter Rules now clearly reflect how it identifies fake accounts and what behaviors violate their guidelines. Any account using stolen avatar photos, stolen or copied bios, misleading profile information and location will be considered a fake account.
According to the “attributed activity” policy, action will be taken on all accounts associated to an entity known to violate the Twitter Rules. Now the accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts which have been previously suspended for violating rules will also face action against them.
Furthermore, to address the issue of distribution of hacked material they have expanded the criteria for taking action on accounts which claim responsibility for a hack. This will include threats and public incentives to hack specific people and accounts.
Detection and enforcement
Twitter is serious about maintaining electoral integrity and for this they have partnered with the RNC, DNC, and state election institutions to better handle misinformation. Accounts sharing misleading election-related content have been and will be under the radar of Twitter now.
In August, they removed up to 50 accounts that were misrepresenting themselves as members of various state Republican parties. They have also taken actions against tweets sharing media regarding elections and political issues with misleading or incorrect party affiliation information. Their automated detectors or bots were able to identify millions of potentially spammy and automated accounts per week.
These steps have helped the social media site decrease the number of spam-related reports they receive each day. In future, we will see more improvements to their enforcement against common policy violations.
With the recently updated personalization setting, users can view posts in reverse-chronological experience, without any recommended content and recaps. This gives users more control over how they want to experience what’s happening on Twitter.
In May, it launched an election labels beta for candidates in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. More new features will be added to show the context about accounts on Twitter. To ensure safety of their accounts a message will be sent to the candidates to ensure they have two-factor authentication enabled on their account.
They are offering electoral institutions a elections-specific support portal to receive and review critical feedback about emerging issues as quickly as possible.
As part of their civic engagement efforts, Twitter is building conversation around the hashtag #BeAVoter with a custom emoji. This will be shown on the home timeline of U.S.-based users informing them about how to register to vote.
It is clear that, Twitter has become an important electoral communication medium between candidates, parties, and their specific constituencies. At the same time, it is also a place of political fake news and misleading content. These actions are definitely a step forward towards stopping malicious accounts and Tweets from spreading lies and divisive discourse.
To read the full update, check out Twitter’s official announcement.