Twitter Details Efforts to Crack Down on ‘Coordinated Platform Manipulation’

It’s not just Facebook that’s working to eliminate misuse of its platform by politically motivated groups – this week, Twitter has provided an overview of its detection and removal work as it seeks to stamp out what it calls ‘coordinated platform manipulation’.

In the post, Twitter highlights specific efforts to stop groups which have been operating out of Bangladesh, Iran, Russia and Venezeula, which has resulted in, cumulatively, more than 8,800 profile removals, along with enforcement actions against a collection of organizations.

As explained by Twitter:

Manipulation of information for national or geopolitical ends is part of human history, and transcends ideological viewpoints. The medium of communication is what has changed. The behavior is against our values as a company – for our part, we’re learning, evolving, and building a technological and personnel-driven approach to combat it. We hope that holistic, transparent disclosures such as this can help us all learn and build the necessary societal defenses and capacities to protect public conversation.”

In addition to this, Twitter has also published a separate account of its efforts to protect the electoral process during the 2018 Mid Terms, within which Twitter says that it was able to detect and remove bad actors originating from Iran, Venezuela, and Russia.

“The majority of these accounts were proactively suspended in advance of Election Day due to the increasingly robust nature of our technology and internal tooling for identifying platform manipulation.” 

And worthy of note also – Twitter makes specific mention of working with an industry peer, which happens to be Facebook in this case, to weed out such concerns. The efforts are a positive step, and point to future information sharing to address this critical issue.

As highlighted by Facebook’s most recent removals, there are many politically-motivated groups looking to utilize social platforms to influence voters, and in various regions. Such efforts have the potential to undermine the democratic process, and as such, you can expect that the networks themselves will be looking to address them (to avoid further potential regulation) and that motivated groups will continue to seek ways to circumvent detection and spread propaganda through social channels.

Twitter, with far fewer users, seems like less of a concern in this respect, but the capacity for tweets to drive the news agenda is more significant than many realize. As such, it’s good to see Twitter looking to working with peers and academics to develop best practices, which, ideally, will help reduce such impact.  

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