Twitter has sharply escalated its battle against fake and suspicious accounts, suspending more than 1 million a day in recent months, a major shift to lessen the flow of disinformation on the platform, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.
The rate of account suspensions, which Twitter confirmed to The Post, has more than doubled since October, when the company revealed under congressional pressure how Russia used fake accounts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July, according to the data.
The aggressive removal of unwanted accounts may result in a rare decline in the number of monthly users in the second quarter, which ended last week, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak. Twitter declined to comment on a possible decline in its user base.
Twitter’s growing campaign against bots and trolls – coming despite the risk to the company’s user growth – is part of the ongoing fallout from Russia’s disinformation offensive during the 2016 presidential campaign, when a St. Petersburg-based troll factory was able to use some of America’s most prominent technology platforms to deceive voters on a mass scale to exacerbate social and political tensions.
The extent of account suspensions, which has not previously been reported, is one of several recent moves by Twitter to limit the influence of people it says are abusing its platform. The changes, which were the subject of internal debate, reflect a philosophical shift for Twitter. Its executives long resisted policing misbehavior more aggressively, for a time even referring to themselves as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.”
(c) 2018 The Washington Post