Twitter to delete millions of suspicious accounts

Twitter said these accounts were different from spam accounts, which typically exhibit spammy behavior.

twitterTwitter users are set to see a dip in their followers, as the firm prepares a major purge of locked accounts.

Starting on Wednesday, Twitter will remove all locked accounts from people’s follower numbers. Most people will see a change of “four followers or fewer” but accounts with larger followings will experience a “more significant drop”, the company said.

Twitter locks accounts when it detects “sudden changes in account behaviour” – for example, if the account tweets a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions; if the account posts misleading links; or if a large number of other accounts block the account in question. Accounts can also be locked if the platform finds that someone’s login credentials have been leaked elsewhere, for example through a data breach at another service.

In both cases, Twitter contacts the owners of the account and asks them to validate the account and reset their password. If the owner doesn’t comply, the account remains locked.

“In most cases, these accounts were created by real people, but we cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it,” said Vijaya Gadde, from Twitter’s trust and safety team, in a blogpost.

Twitter said these accounts were different from spam accounts, which typically exhibit spammy behavior from the beginning and so are easier to identify.

Locked accounts are restricted from posting by the social media site when it detects activity such as tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, and must be verified by owners before they can be unlocked.

The firm said the removal of locked accounts – believed to number in the millions – is part of effort to “improve the health” of conversation on the platform by deleting suspicious and inactive accounts.

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