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Why Twitter just purged over 70 million accounts

Since May, Twitter brought the ban hammer down on over 70 million accounts. That’s nearly 1 million accounts every single day. The affected accounts mostly consist of spammers, bots, propaganda accounts, and trolls. This mass digital purge comes in the wake of increased criticism toward Twitter and other social media platforms whose critics say they don’t do enough to protect their users from spam and abuse.

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As any Twitter user can attest, a huge influx of bots invaded the platform during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. High profile media coverage of Russian propaganda and troll accounts have has severely hurt Twitter’s public image, and this ban wave is undeniably a response to the criticism. While Twitter arguably got off lighter than Facebook (whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously had to testify before Congress), they definitely have a long road ahead of them in regaining user trust. After the bot-infested events of Brexit and the 2016 election, Twitter is taking bot detection much, much more seriously.

Additionally, Twitter purged accounts that spread hate speech or abuse. More and more celebrities are choosing to stay off of Twitter due to the torrents of abuse they receive. For years, Twitter’s term’s of service allowed for banning hate speech and abuse. But recent enforcement has been far more vigorous. It can be extremely tricky to balance the ideas of free speech, hate speech, and abuse, so it remains to be seen how Twitter users react to the crackdown and how, if at all, the user experience improves.

 

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