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By 29 September 2017 | Categories: news

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It’s not just us in South Africa who have problems with fake Twitter accounts, the Americans are also suffering. According to Twitter, 201 Russia-linked accounts have been found spreading misinformation around the 2016 US Election.

In a blog post, Twitter noted that its vice president for public policy, Colin Crowell met with staff from Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Facebook already disclosed 450 Russia-linked fake accounts, with Twitter noting 22 of these were linked to accounts on its platform. A further 179 related or linked accounts were discovered, with Twitter stating it “took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules”. Non of these were linked to advertising on the platform. Facebook announced that Russian-linked accounts spent $100,000 on its platform during the 2016 election.

Twitter believes Russia and other post-Soviet states have been a “primary source” of automated and spam-like content on Twitter. There has been 3.2 million suspicious accounts caught during 2017 alone, more than double that of this time last year. The company notes that it tries to stop bots before they can do damage. This entails identifying suspicious log-in attempts, discovering accounts created by a single source, spotting non-human activity patterns and improving phone verification amongst other measures. However, the problem of bot activity is huge, with Twitter, for example, revealing that 5.7 million “spammy-follows” were stopped from a single source last week.

The micro-blogging platform will take further measures, stating, “Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out several changes to the actions we take when we detect spammy or suspicious activity, including introducing new and escalating enforcements for suspicious logins, Tweets, and engagements, and shortening the amount of time suspicious accounts remain visible on Twitter while pending confirmation.”

With misinformation being an age-old tool of war, one hopes that Twitter sorts this problem out sooner rather than later.

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