Twitter deletes automated accounts discouraging voting

Erika Holt
November 5, 2018

Twitter said Friday that it had deleted thousands of automated accounts that were posting messages discouraging people from voting in Tuesday's midterm elections.

The spokesman said: "We took action on relevant accounts and activity on Twitter".

Most of the accounts were posing as Democrats and have been brought to the company's attention by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As reported by Reuters, accounts sent out tweets that discouraged male Democrat voters from casting their vote, suggesting that they would "drown out the voice of women".

With the midterm elections looming, Twitter and its social media peers including Facebook Inc. have been taking more aggressive measures to fight abuses using human reviewers and improved algorithms.

Three credible sources close to Reuters confirmed that the bot accounts, numbering over 10,000, were deleted in the last week of September and first week of October.

Conservatives and others on the right have accused Twitter and other social media companies of discriminating on the basis of political agenda, while those on the left have alleged that Russian Federation has been using "bot farms" to interfere in US elections.

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The DCCC had faced flak in 2016 when it failed to check the propaganda unleashed against the then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

It was built in part from publicly available tools known as "Hoaxley" and "Botometer" developed by computer researchers at the University of Indiana.

They allow users to identify automated accounts and further analyse how they are spreading information about a specific topic.

One of these partners includes RoBhat Labs who develops technology that can identify bots and what the political-bias is in the message. "We stopped this quickly and at its source", the Twitter spokesperson continued.

Representatives from Twitter significantly "cleaned" the content of your product, removing a huge number of accounts.

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