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Twitter Kills 143000 Apps, Charts New Rules For Developers

Twitter also introduced a new option for people to report suspected violations of its platform policies

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Twitter set to ban 'dehumanising' language on its platform. Pixabay
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Twitter removed more than 143,000 apps between April and June which violated its policies, the company has announced, saying it is further investing in building improved tools and processes to stop malicious apps faster.

As part of its clean-up process, the micro-blogging platform also introduced a new way for all developers to request access to Twitter’s application programming interfaces (APIs)

“These changes enable us to have more visibility and control over how developers use our platform and public data from the people using our service,” wrote Yoel Roth and Rob Johnson from Twitter in a blog post late on Tuesday.

According to media reports, Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June in a massive drive to clear out bots and trolls on the platform. Twitter currently has nearly 330 million monthly active users (MAUs).

The company also announced a new developer account application process that include use case reviews and policy compliance checks, as well as new protections to prevent the registration of spammy and low-quality apps.

“Starting today, all new requests for access to Twitter’s standard and premium APIs are required to go through this process,” Twitter said.

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Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Following application approval, the developers may be required to undergo additional rigorous policy reviews if they change app’s use or request access to additional features, “including the ability to post content to Twitter frequently or at high volumes”.

“We’re also limiting the default number of apps you may have registered by a single developer account to 10. Developers who need to register more than 10 apps can request permission using the API Policy support form,” Twitter informed.

“If you already have more than 10 apps registered, you can continue to use them as long as they comply with our rules but you won’t be able to register new apps until you either request permission for additional apps or delete unused ones,” it added.

On September 10, Twitter will add new default app-level rate limits that will apply to all requests to create tweets, retweets, likes, follows, or Direct Messages.

Also Read: Twitter CEO Counters the Criticism From The New York Times

By default, an app (across all of its users) will be limited to 300 tweets and retweets (combined) per three hours; 1,000 likes per 24 hours; 1,000 follows per 24 hours and 15,000 Direct Messages per 24 hours.

Twitter also introduced a new option for people to report suspected violations of its platform policies.

“You can use the ‘Report a bad app’ option in our Help Centre to report uses of our APIs which produce spam, invade user privacy, or otherwise violate our rules,” Twitter noted. (IANS)

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Twitter Releases Tweets Showing Attempts Of Influence On U.S. Politics From Foreign Countries

All of the accounts linked to the massive trove of tweets released by Twitter have been suspended or deleted.

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The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California. VOA

On Wednesday, Twitter released a collection of more than 10 million tweets related to thousands of accounts affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency propaganda organization, as well as hundreds more troll accounts, including many based in Iran.

The data, analyzed and released in a report by The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, are made up of 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, 770 other accounts potentially based in Iran as well as 10 million tweets and more than 2 million images, videos and other media.

Russian trolls targeting U.S. politics took on personas from both the left and the right. Their primary goal appears to have been to sow discord, rather than promote any particular side, presumably with a goal of weakening the United States, the report said.

DFRlab says the Russian trolls were often effective, drawing tens of thousands of retweets on certain posts including from celebrity commentators like conservative Ann Coulter.

Russia, Twitter
The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. VOA

Some of the tweets posted:

“Judgement Day is here. Please vote #TrumpPence16 to save our great nation from destruction! #draintheswamp #TrumpForPresident,” said a fake Election Day tweet in 2016.

“Daily reminder: Trump still hasn’t imposed sanctions on Russia that were passed 4,193 in the House and 982 in the Senate. Shouldn’t that be grounds for impeachment?” said another tweet in March of this year.

Multiple goals

The Russian operation had multiple goals, including interfering in the U.S. presidential election, polarizing online communities, and weakening trust in American institutions, according to the DFRLab.

“The thing to understand is that the Russians were equal opportunity partisans,” Graham Brookie, one of the researchers behind the analysis, told VOA News. “There was a very specific focus on specific ideological communities and specific demographics.”

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The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, speaks at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington. VOA

Following an initial push to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected in 2016, the analysis identified a “second wave” of fake accounts, many of which were focused on infiltrating anti-Trump groups, especially those identified with the “Resistance” movement, exploiting sensitive issues such as race relations and gun violence. These often achieved greater impact than their conservative counterparts.

“Don’t ever tell me kneeling for the flag is disrespectful to our troops when Trump calls a sitting Senator “Pocahontas” in front of Native American war heroes,” tweeted an account posing as an African-American woman named “Luisa Haynes” under the handle @wokeluisa in November 2017. The tweet garnered more than 32,000 retweets and over 89,000 likes.

“They tried to inflame everybody, regardless of race, creed, politics or sexual orientation,” the Lab noted in its analysis. “On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues.”

Iran trolling

Iran’s trolling was primarily focused on promoting its own interests, including attacking regional rivals like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

However, Iran’s trolling was less effective than the Russian posts, with most tweets getting limited responses.

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Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

This was partially because of posting styles that were less inflammatory, according to the report.

“Few of the accounts showed distinctive personalities: They largely shared online articles,” according to the report. “As such, they were a poor fit for Twitter, where personal comment tends to resonate more strongly than website shares.” Generally, many troll posts were ineffective, and “their operations were washed away in the firehose of Twitter.”

All of the accounts linked to the massive trove of tweets released by Twitter have been suspended or deleted, and the analysis notes that overall activity from suspected Russian trolls fell this year after Twitter clampdowns in September and June 2017.

Also Read: Facebook Better Prepared To Defend Itself Against External Manipulation For The Elections

But, that does not mean political trolls do not still pose a threat.

“Identifying future foreign influence operations, and reducing their impact, will demand awareness and resilience from the activist communities targeted, not just the platforms and the open source community,” according to the report. (VOA)