Twitter been busy purging fake accounts, suspending 70 million accounts in May and June in its attempts to reduce the impact of misinformation. Twitter’s increasingly aggressive purges were already alarming some users. In February, the platform assured that it was wiping out bots, not silencing conservatives. But the company has also taken the opportunity to liquidate retweet-spamming accounts in order to promote more genuine interaction.
While this big purge may be about controlling misinformation, it’s also about Twitter banning users for scamming and abuse, something the social media giant hasn’t been to strict with in the past. Suspending 70 million users still sounds like a blow to a company that’s struggled to increase its user base, but these actions have not had a ton of impact on the amount of active users, Twitter’s VP of Trust and Safety says. He adds that those accounts weren’t tweeting regularly anyway.
Within Twitter, there was a widespread debate over the decision to target fake accounts on the platform. Reportedly, it was the political pressure after Congress grilled the company on the litany of Russian-controlled fake accounts that pushed Twitter to pursue more aggressive action to curtail bots on its platform. The company started looking at account behavior to identify them, such as tweeting to a large number of unfamiliar accounts and how often those accounts that were doing it were being blocked or red flagged.
Twitter’s punitive measures have also evolved beyond suspensions: For example, they can now curtail the impact and reach of a user’s tweets by burying them deep in the message stream.