> In fact, the paper's two researchers write that with a machine learning approach they developed themselves, they could identify abusive accounts in far greater volumes and faster than Twitter does—often flagging the accounts months before Twitter spotted and banned them.
"Learn to code" was tweeted at me by a sketchy account. I reported it as abusive behavior as part of targeted harassment. Twitter suspended the account within 20 minutes.
Journalists if they tweet "learn to code" at you don't stay silent, take a moment to report it. https://t.co/RXgqqV2ptw
— Ben Popken (@bpopken) February 1, 2019
"#MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper"
Perhaps I can put it another way
"I don’t believe that we can afford to take a neutral stance anymore. I don’t believe that we should optimize for neutrality." - Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Feb 5 2019
> Name these kids. I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these fuckers wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again.
This isn't complex.
Not very effective.
For all the attention it gets, Twitter is a niche product with many fewer real human users than Instagram or even Snapchat.
This is the same issue as the naive attempts at driving web page hits during the early web. "Look at how many pages people are looking at!"
Then people realized that people were going from page to page because they couldn't find their damned answer anywhere.
And so now more sophisticated metrics are used: time on page. Customer sat metrics — were people actually happy using your website?
While total weekly/monthly active user counts are important what is also important is churn — are people abandoning the platform because of spam, trolls, etc.
Who cares if you create a million fake accounts if you lose a half-million real human users?
But in practice what we’ve seen on Twitter are accounts that are largely silo’d off from users, who act to “signal boost” certain tweets and hashtags. Most users never even see these accounts, and will never interact with them directly: but they will see content on their timelines boosted from spammers.
My appeal was denied without explanation. I can only assume I was wrapped up in some anti-spam measure.
EDIT: To address responses to this, I think it's extremely unlikely the account was hacked. To be clear, there was no account activity of any kind other than the location change. The password was long, complex, and one I did not use anywhere else.
EDIT: I should also add that I have a very strong password which is not reused anywhere, so I doubt very much someone guessed the password.
I'm sorry, it seems a whole lot more likely Twitter used some heuristic to assume the account was a bot, set the location as a marker, and suspended it.
But again, I don't see the point in taking over an account (please name these other ways of taking one over) and then doing absolutely nothing with it except changing the location. If I'm going to take over aged accounts, why wouldn't I do something with it? How did Twitter identify that the account was hacked, then? Why did they deny my appeal? Why didn't they just ask me to change my password?
Of course at some point the guy who hacked your account fucked it up and blew a bunch of his accounts. At this point Twitter thinks you're just a bot account and doesn't care what you have to say.
Most common other ways to take over an account involve calling tech support and telling them you lost the password and the email account.
My country has been reset again to Russia. I had fixed it when it happened the first time.
Yeah, I'm sorry, there's no way it's not Twitter doing this. I'm not sure why so many people here are dead set on the "it must be secret hackers" explanation.
I'm also pretty sure there's not 1-800 Twitter line to call to reset your password, and if Twitter support is giving random people from random emails account access, Twitter has a much bigger problem.
Presidential Candidate, Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) account was inflated by millions of fake followers. There is an analysis of it here 
Which is if paid by the campaign, by law it should be reflected on their campaign spending (however, it would violated twitter's rules and her account could be suspended). Or paid by some PAC. Either way, if it's so easy to detect, it's obvious twitter knows about these and are just not reacting to them and only removing some accounts for PR purposes.
> It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.
> “We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” the report says.
It's fairly common with Google AdSense, too - generate obvious click fraud on a competitor's ads, watch them get suspended.
Other than a victim trying to make a strong case that they are not responsible, are there any elegant solutions to this problem?
Just push the bar up for people. The flipside is that people who want to stay anonymous or people with privacy concerns will stay off the platform, but I think fundamentally there is a price to be paid if you want an authentic community.
If I understand right, out of 460k apps 170k were malicious. That should lead to quite many manual reviews, if you don’t trust the algorithm. Also I’m not sure if this would a task where humans are any better.
At these numbers 6% is quite much in absolute terms. That would mean quite many legitimate apps getting blocked (unless I’m missing something here).
6% is 6%. The absolute number is meaningless. It’s just a crappy twitter integration that no one really cares about. It’s not a human life.
The whole thing feels highly commercialized and yet, at the same time, very gauche, like stepping into a neighbourhood where the only stores sell payday loans, bail bonds and liquor. I follow ~12-15 people in my industry who are knowledgeable about stuff, but honestly, that makes Twitter extremely boring.
I'm starting to realize that the drama and beefs (often manufactured) is what keeps ordinary people coming to a medium where they aren't even the intended customer.
Here is a prime example of an account and tweet that has lots of substance https://twitter.com/michael_nielsen/status/10618244705564672...
He also has lists of accounts on his profile that have high signal to noise ratio. https://twitter.com/michael_nielsen/status/10810700446483988...
Personally I would love to have the feature of following accounts for their self-written tweets but not retweets. Definitely will help with signal to noise. But that goes against Twitter's business model, so I doubt it will happen.
Microblogging is great, and Twitter remains the least worst solution for this.
Twitter should probably scan their user passwords for obvious / most-used ones and require their users to change their passwords.
326 million Twitter users x each password in your list.
Really comes down to which hashing function they chose, and how fast it does that calculation.
Something like bcrypt is roughly 100ms per hash, which is a LONG time when you're crunching billions of them.
There is no excuse not to do it, especially you need to do it only once per user (until password change).
That's 90 hours per account, multiply that by 326 million accounts and it's over a billion CPU days.
You can reduce it a lot (no need to spend time calculating the password for users who log in regularly, just wait for them to give it to you) but it's still a massive scale. Especially since the biggest risk comes from the millions of rarely used accounts.
The effect is two-fold. You're removing the grey market of fake bots for padding follower numbers, and also make a paper trail for accounts
The KPI we need to know is: As bot accounts increase what is the churn of real accounts? Unless real accounts are falling, and it's because of bots / spam, then Twitter is unlikely to do much about the problem; because to them it's not really a problem.
Compare that to Company B that has 500k DAU and flat. Not so good.
Now what happens if it turns out that Company A’s DAUs we’re actually bots? Suddenly, the audience isn’t worth anything, because bots aren’t an advertiser friendly audience. So now the stock should at least drop in accordance to the real-DAU, and maybe even less to price in lack of confidence in the future.
The last big round of fake bot purges saw significant percentages of users removed from prominent accounts like Obama’s.
If normal people don’t know it’s a problem - why would Twitter want to fix it? Add that to a real financial hit if they do. Not “can’t”, “won’t”.