Twitter is adding more nuance to its spam reporting tools, the company announced today. Instead of simply flagging a tweet as posting spam, users can now specify what kind of spam you’re seeing by way of a new menu of choices. Among these is the option to report spam you believe to be from a fake Twitter account.
Now, when you tap the “Report Tweet” option and choose “It’s suspicious or spam” from the first menu, you’re presented with a new selection of choices where you can pick what kind of spam the tweet contains.
Here, you can pick from options that specify if the tweet is posting a malicious link of some kind, if it’s from a fake account, if it’s using the Reply function to send spam or if it’s using unrelated hashtags.
These last two tricks are regularly used by spammers to increase the visibility of their tweets.
Often, high-profile Twitter users will see replies to their tweets promoting the spammers’ content. For example, check any of @elonmusk’s thread for crypto scammers’ tweets — a problem so severe, that when Elon played along one time as a joke, Twitter locked his account.
Using hashtags, meanwhile, allows spammers to get attention from those people searching Twitter’s Trends.
And of course, spammers are often posting prohibited content, like malicious links, links to phishing sites and other dangerous links.
Activity that attempts to manipulate or disrupt Twitter’s service is not allowed. We remove this when we see it.
You can now specify what type of spam you're seeing when you report, including fake accounts. pic.twitter.com/GN9NKw2Qyn
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 31, 2018
But Twitter users will probably be most interested in the new option to report fake accounts.
There’s been a lot of name-calling on Twitter today following the emergence of reports of Russian bots and trolls flooding Twitter, in an attempt to influence U.S. politics with disinformation. Often, users in disagreements on the site will call someone “bot” as a way to shut down a conversation.
Twitter itself has been suspending real bots left and right in recent months. It deleted 200,000 Russian troll tweets earlier this year, for example, and suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June, according to reports.
Now users will be able to report those accounts they believe to be bots, as well.
To what extent Twitter will rely on these user-generated reports over its own algorithmic-based bot-detection systems, or other factors (like IP addresses or suspicious behavior), is unclear.
It’s also unclear if people can ban together to mass report an account as “fake” in an attempt to remove a real person’s account. But someone will surely soon test that out.
Prior to the change, users were able to report spam but not the type of spam, Twitter’s documentation today still confirms.
Twitter tells us the updated reporting flow will simply allow the company to collect more detail so it can “identify and remove spam more effectively.”
The feature is live now on the web and in its mobile apps.
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