It looks like Twitter is getting serious about fighting disinformation and fake news on the platform. The company has taken down about 70 million fake accounts in May and June of this year. According to a report by The Washington Post, the pace of suspending account has continued in July with the company taking down “more than 1 million” accounts per day. The company has confirmed this rate adding that the suspension rate has “more than doubled since October.” The likely reason for this increased rate of suspension could be the increased pressure from the US Congress after it was revealed that “Russia used fake accounts” to cause interference in the presidential election.
Though, this pace of taking down accounts may result in “a rare decline” in the monthly user grown for Twitter in the second quarter. While it is not surprising that Twitter had to act against the disinformation and fake news spread by bots and fake users on the platform, but it is surprising at how strong a measure the company is taking to fight this problem. As pointed by the report, this move marks a shift in how Twitter has handled the abuse of the platform by users.
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Del Harvey, the Vice President for Trust and Safety at Twitter noted that the company was only recently “able to dedicate the resources and develop the technical capabilities to target malicious behavior.” She also stated that Twitter is making changes in the way it encourages free speech while ensuring safety adding “Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe” as pointed out in the report.
Twitter is not the only platform that has faced the heat from lawmakers about fighting fake news and disinformation. US lawmakers have put pressure on social media giant Facebook to take concrete steps at combating the problem. The Indian government has also joined in by asking Facebook and WhatsApp to combat fake news on the popular messaging platform.