Bad news for the bot brigade.
In a post published yesterday, Twitter have announced that there will be a serious crackdown on multiple accounts using the micro-blogging site to artificially inflate the importance of certain tweets.
It's common knowledge that the site has become the breeding ground for bots or 'computational propaganda', as coined by the University of Oxford's internet watchdog division, since the 2016 US Presidential Elections and the Brexit debate. As the war over public opinion is being fought increasingly online these agents have been trying to steer debates on controversial and divisive topics internationally.
The news comes after a fresh bout of concerns were raised after the Florida shooting hashtags were inundated with Russian botnets, attempting to lead the conversation on the highly contentious issue of gun control.
A spokesperson for Twitter has confirmed the new rules regarding the use of multiple accounts and they are as follows
Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts.
This applies regardless of whether the Tweets are published to Twitter at the same time, or are scheduled/queued for future publication.
Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.
On top of this, it will be forbidden to co-ordinate an intentional manipulation of the trending section on Twitter. The site will remove these options from its own TweetDeck app, and third-party developers have until March 23rd to comply.
The crackdown has been met with mixed reactions. Conservatives in America feel that Twitter is discriminating against them for holding certain political beliefs.
I lost over 200 followers last night after twitter forced me to give a phone number and prove I was not a “bot”.— Annie Get Your Gun❤️💃🏻👠 (@Greeneyz0080) February 21, 2018
Liberals may laugh but what you allow to happen to conservatives will come for you as well. #twitterlockout #twitterlockout conservatives #wisewolf2 pic.twitter.com/uZPNjhv09N
That twitter attack on conservatives hit me too last night. I was deemed “ineligible” to use twitter ads and had followers purged. @twitter should ashamed, we have to organize a response. #TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/1Df4jY3Vv6— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 21, 2018
While others have welcomed the news.
Apparently conservatives on Twitter feel singled out because so many of their followers are suspected Russian bots. This is what happens when you share the same goals as the Russian trolls. #TwitterLockOut https://t.co/bBliPvKb7p— Baron Brady (@BradyBaron) February 22, 2018
It’s ridiculous I have to say this but here goes:— Bryce Tache (@brycetache) February 21, 2018
Bots aren’t people. Their voices weren’t silenced. Conservatives aren’t being censored. There is no conspiracy.
The country is a bit safer today. All of us, Dems and Repubs alike.#TwitterLockOut
It remains to be seen how these new measures will be exactly enforced going forward or what the repercussions might be.